Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) is the anniversary of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem in 1967. After thousands of years Jerusalem, the holiest city in Judaism, was under Jewish sovereignty again. We must not forget that the destruction of Jerusalem was a watershed moment in Jewish history. It ushered in an era of separation…. of mourning and longing to return and therefore, the reunification of the city that took place fifty-five years ago is of great cause to celebrate as it ushered in a new era of reversing thousands of years of destruction and exile.For two millennia the world has persisted with attempts to separate Israel from Jews and its Jewishness, and Jerusalem from Israel. The Roman Empire was responsible for a forced diaspora and even renamed Judea as Palestine. For centuries, Jerusalem endured the terror of invading armies and in the 20th century there were three major attempts by Arab nations to annihilate Israel.
Despite these and other efforts, Jerusalem has remained, and always will remain, the holiest city in Judaism and the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people. The late 18th century Hebrew writer, Elhanan Leib Lewinsky, beautifully said that “Without Jerusalem, the land of Israel is as a body without a soul’’.
Three thousand years ago King David made Jerusalem his capital and from that moment, the city became eternally and inexorably connected to Israel and the Jewish people. Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the Tanach and when praying, Jews always face the city. In so many places we find references to Jerusalem as the centre of Jewish focus. We see it in our holidays when we say, “Next year in Jerusalem” at the end of our Passover Seder. We say it while dancing at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. It was in Jerusalem that Jewish Temples stood, Jewish kings ruled and biblical prophets preached. Our constant hope and prayer is for Jerusalem. Throughout its history as a city only one people – the Jews – have ever made Jerusalem their spiritual and political capital.
As WIZO, our pioneering women have always worked hard to improve the social welfare of Jerusalem’s residents. WIZO celebrates Jerusalem and builds up this special city by impacting the lives of those who live there. Because of WIZO, vulnerable women and children in Jerusalem have the opportunity to overcome their challenges and live their lives to the fullest.
Yerushalayim (the Hebrew name of the city) comes from two words: Ir and Shalem. Ir means city and Shalem comes from Shalom, meaning peace. The word Shalem comes from the word to complete, or to perfect. Shlaimut in Hebrew means to fulfill oneself, to achieve a level of completion in one’s life.
This Jerusalem Day let us remember that this special city that is forever etched in our hearts and souls is a city like no other. We will not forget her. She is the City of completion and the City of Peace. Jerusalem wraps itself around our past, affirms our reality today and opens the door to our future.
Happy Jerusalem Day!