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Yom Yerushalayim

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Yom Yerushalayim

This article is about the Israeli national holiday. For the annual demonstration of pro-Palestinian sentiment, see Quds Day.
Jerusalem Day
Jaffa Road
Official name Hebrew: יום ירושלים‎ (Yom Yerushalayim)
Observed by Israelis, Jews
Significance The reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli control after the Six-Day War. The first time Jews control Jerusalem since the Destruction of the Second Holy Temple by the Romans in 70 AD.
Begins Iyar 28
Date
2013 date
2014 date
2015 date
2016 date
Frequency annual

Jerusalem Day (Hebrew: יום ירושלים‎, Yom Yerushalayim) is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in June 1967. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to thank God for victory in the Six-Day War and for answering the 2,000-year-old prayer of "Next Year in Jerusalem".

The day is marked by state ceremonies, memorial services for soldiers who died in the battle for Jerusalem, parades through downtown Jerusalem, reciting the Hallel prayer with blessings in synagogues, and saying the Pesukei Dezimra of Sabbath and High Holidays.[1] There are also lectures on Jerusalem-related topics, singing and dancing, and special television programming.[2] Schoolchildren throughout the country learn about the significance of Jerusalem, and schools in Jerusalem hold festive assemblies.[3] The day is also marked in Jewish schools around the world.[4][5]

History

Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which proposed the establishment of two states in the British Mandate of Palestine—a Jewish state and an Arab state—Jerusalem was to be an international city, neither exclusively Arab nor Jewish for a period of ten years, at which point a referendum would be held by Jerusalem residents to determine which country to join. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan, including the internationalization of Jerusalem, but the Arabs rejected the proposal.[6]

As soon as Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was attacked en masse by its Arab neighbours. Jordan took over east Jerusalem and the Old City. Israeli forces made a concerted attempt to dislodge them, but were unable to do so. By the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War Jerusalem was left divided between Israel and Jordan. The Old City and East Jerusalem continued to be occupied by Jordan, and the Jewish residents were forced out. Under Jordanian rule, half of the Old City's fifty-eight synagogues were demolished and the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was plundered for its tombstones, which were used as paving stones and building materials.[7]

This state of affairs changed in 1967 as a result of the Six-Day War. Before the start of the war, Israel sent a message to King Hussein of Jordan saying that Israel would not attack Jerusalem or the West Bank as long as the Jordanian front remained quiet. Urged by Egyptian pressure and based on deceptive intelligence reports, Jordan began shelling civilian locations in Israel[8] to which Israel responded on June 6 by opening the eastern front. The following day, June 7, 1967 (28 Iyar 5727), Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem.

Later that day, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared what is often quoted during Yom Yerushalayim:[9][10]

This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples' holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.[11]

The war ended with a ceasefire on June 11, 1967.

On May 12, 1968, the government proclaimed a new holiday—Jerusalem Day—to be celebrated on the 28th of Iyar, the Hebrew date on which the divided city of Jerusalem became one. On March 23, 1998, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Day Law, making the day a national holiday.

One of the themes of Jerusalem Day, based on a verse from the Book of Psalms, is "Ke'ir shechubra la yachdav"—"Built-up Jerusalem is like a city that was joined together" (Psalm 122:3).[3]

Religious observance

Religious Zionists recite special holiday prayers with Hallel.[12] Although Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was reluctant to authorise its inclusion in the liturgy,[13] other scholars, namely Meshulam Roth and others who held positions in the Israeli rabbinate, advocated the reciting of Hallel with its blessings, regarding it as a duty to do so. Today, various communities follow differing practices.[14]

The Haredim (strictly Orthodox), who do not recognise the religious significance of the State of Israel, do not observe Yom Yerushalayim.[15][16] Rabbi Moses Feinstein maintained that adding holidays to the Jewish calendar was itself problematic.[17]

40th anniversary celebrations


The slogan for Jerusalem Day 2007, marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, was "Mashehu Meyuhad leKol Ehad" (Hebrew: משהו מיוחד לכל אחד‎, Something Special for Everyone), punning on the words "meyuhad" (special) and "me'uhad" (united). To mark the anniversary, the approach to Jerusalem on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway was illuminated with decorative blue lighting which remained in place throughout the year.

See also

References

External links

  • Education week 9-13.5 - 43rd Jerusalem Day
  • Jerusalem Day on the official Knesset website
  • Hebrew broadcast of the conquering of the Old City, from Voice of Israel Radio, June 7, 1967
  • Web site
  • "Jerusalem in International Diplomacy" from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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