Think about the city you live in. In all probability, it’s a lot like most other cities—people, parks, jobs and schools. If it’s big enough, it might even still have a ‘downtown’ just like Jerusalem.
But your city is not like Jerusalem. First of all, your city isn’t old enough. Jerusalem is more than 3,000 years old. It has been destroyed twice, attacked more than 50 times, and captured-recaptured more than 40 times.
Chances are, your city probably hasn’t ever been destroyed. It’s probably never been captured or recaptured, either, except perhaps by sports fans fighting their police after the occasional great victory by a local sports team.
That doesn’t compare to Jerusalem. Jerusalem isn’t about sports. It’s about religion. It’s about G-d. It’s so important, three religions want it as their own.
Judaism, the oldest of the three religions, claims Jerusalem. Judaism was first. It has provenance.
But both Christianity and then Islam claim they’re the new-and-improved versions of religion. They also want Jerusalem. For them, Jews don’t count.
Each claims Jerusalem for itself.
So it is that Jerusalem takes stage-center. Nations and religions kill to control it. Somehow, through it all, Jerusalem remains holy—and, incredibly, Jewish.
The Jews have never gone away.
Jerusalem is Zion. She embodies the essence of the Jewish nation. She is the heart of Jewish history.
Jerusalem: this is where King David lived and King Solomon built our Holy Temple more than 2900 years ago.
Jerusalem: this is where close to 2,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed in 1948 after Arabs conquered the city’s Jewish Quarter.
Jerusalem: this is where, in 1967, Jews died to free our Temple Mount and Jewish soldiers felt the presence of G-d as they fought.
Jerusalem: this is where the Temple Mount, for the first time in 2,000 years, stands ready to offer freedom of worship to Jews (according to conditions set by Jewish law).
The G-d of Israel has been kind to Jerusalem, even as Man has not. When, after almost 2,000 years of exile, the United Nations gave Israel the right to become a modern State, it did not give Jerusalem to the Jews. It kept Jerusalem for UN control; the UN plan was that the Jews would not get their heart, their Zion. But then, two self-defensive wars later—less than 20 years after Independence--the G-d of Israel returned to Israel her heart, her Zion. Jerusalem and her Temple Mount became Jewish again, just as the Jewish G-d had promised thousands of years before.
Jerusalem is more than a city. It is the resting place of G-dliness. But it is also the battlefield for those who would destroy that G-dliness. Today may indeed be Yom Yirushaly-em—Jerusalem Day—when we remember those who died to unify under Jewish control this greatest of Jewish cities; but it is also a day to understand that our work is not yet done.
Jerusalem is still a battlefield. For example, this is Israel’s capital. But those who hate Jews claim it is the capital of Arab ‘Palestine’.
Jerusalem is the home of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s Holiest site. But those who hate Jews prohibit Jews from worshipping there—and Israel’s government supports that hate.
Jerusalem is so holy, even prayer has become a battlefield. Wherever a Jew lives, he turns to Jerusalem to pray. Three times a day, he turns to Jerusalem. Those who hate Jews claim that Jerusalem is their exclusive Holy city. But when they pray, they show their backsides to Jerusalem.
We celebrate this day. But we do so knowing that Jerusalem is not yet free. According to at least one Waqf representative (representing the Muslim leadership of ‘Jerusalem’), the Temple Mount does not belong to Jews. It belongs to the Waqf—and Jews aren’t allowed there.
Today, some of Jerusalem’s neighbourhoods are Judenrein—Jew-free.
Today, it is legal for Arabs to sit in Jerusalem’s Knesset and support terror against the State of Israel. But today it is illegal for Jews to move their lips at their Holiest place, the Temple Mount.
Today, many Jews in the police, civil administration and criminal justice system--those who rule us on a daily basis--see Jews as usurpers. For these anti-Jewish Jews, this city does not belong to Jews; it belongs to the Arab. Today, these anti-Jew Jews prefer to protect the Arab more than the Jew; and they now tell Jews that they don’t belong on what they apparently have decided is an Arab Temple Mount.
Even as we celebrate, the enemies of Jewish Jerusalem literally take stage-center, as one of the main singers scheduled for Jerusalem Day events is to be an singer who advocates dividing Jerusalem and giving the Temple Mount to the Arab.
Despite this on-going battle, we celebrate our ‘Jerusalem Day’ with joy. We do that because we are Jewish, this city is Jewish—and our Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest place, is Jewish.