Thousands of people streamed to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on Saturday night to celebrate the eve of Jerusalem Day with prayer and song.
The holiday marks 55 years since the reunification of the nation’s capital, when Israeli forces recaptured the eastern half of the holy city from its Jordanian occupiers during the 1967 Six Day War.
Thousands prayed and sang “Sisu et Yerushalayim” in the Western Wall Plaza as they unfurled a massive Israeli flag spanning about 1,000 square meters over the heads of the crowd.
Attending the prayers were Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon, performing artists Yitzchak Meir, Chaim Israel and Ishai Lapidot, as well as leaders of Israeli youth organizations and some 4,000 members of those organizations who had walked to the sacred site on Saturday afternoon.
“The secret of the eternal chain of generations is that they passed the dream to us, from generation to generation; they preserved for us the dream to return to Jerusalem,” said Rabbi Rabinowitz.
“Thanks to them, you are here, and you are here, and I am here. This evening I want to say thank you – in my name and in yours – to all of the generations which came before us, which dreamed of Jerusalem, which wrote about Jerusalem, which swore to return to Jerusalem from Ethiopia, from Hungary, from Yemen, and from Spain – despite the fact that they never saw it.
“Thanks to them, we have come home. Thanks to them, we are praying here this evening, and thanks to them – with God’s help, we will merit to see the coming of our righteous Moshiach (Messiah) and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple, speedily in our days, amen.”
“Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is happy and proud to host these amazing youth in our beloved city,” Mayor Leon added.
“From here, the holiest place to the Jewish nation, we send prayers of unity, cooperation, and brotherhood to the entire People of Israel, wherever they are, and to the entire Jewish nation.
“This is a great merit, to be standing here together with you on the holiday of our beloved capital. I call on all of Israel to come to Jerusalem and enjoy the amazing variety that our city has to offer.”
Some 10,000 people participated in the event sponsored by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Jerusalem municipality, the Authority for the Development of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry.