If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem                                                      
Dear Friends,

On Wednesday of this week, we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim; this year marks 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem when the Old City was won back from the Jordanians in the 1967 Six-Day War. Any Jew alive and aware during that miraculous time might recall the unique feeling of ecstasy that accompanied Israel’s achievement, and the photos of the battle-hardened Israeli soldiers weeping at the Kotel, the Western Wall, until then known as the Wailing Wall, moved every Jew who cared about being a Jew. Their victory was not felt by the Israelis alone – it was a victory for Jews worldwide, igniting a revival of Jewish identity, even sparking the creation of Jewish studies programs throughout the world. For Israel, it began a seven year period of euphoria, mitigated only by the Yom Kippur War in 1973. 

The history of Jerusalem has certainly been tragically contentious ever since, with the Arab world still claiming that they have the sole right to the Temple Mount especially, where three mosques stand, most notably the golden Dome of the Rock. Yet the Old City, which for 19 years had been bereft of Jews, is now again a truly international city under Israeli stewardship, where Muslims, Christians, and Jews have access to their holy sites and where ongoing archaeological work continues to yield discoveries that increase our understanding of the origins and development of all three Western religions. 

Jerusalem remains a dizzying mix of the old and the new, and to walk anywhere in the city, either in the newer western side or in the ancient eastern side, is to live on a different plane of existence. If you have not walked its streets, you owe it to yourself to do so. It might not always feel like a holy experience – in fact, I no longer feel the power of the Western Wall because of the unfortunate politics and the continued, unequal separation of men and women at the Kotel. Yet there are times that I have been there when Jerusalem seemed to be a place apart from reality, where the boundary between the earthly Jerusalem and the mirror, heavenly Jerusalem was blurred.

 May the spark of godliness in each of us motivate us to support her and all of her inhabitants, to attest to her glory, and to fight for her continued status as the spiritual and actual heart of Eretz Yisrael.

ה  אִם-אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם, תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי.

ו  תִּדְבַּק-לְשׁוֹנִי לְחִכִּי, אִם-לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי:
אִם-לֹא אַעֲלֶה אֶת-יְרוּשָׁלִַם עַל רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי.

 

 “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,” says Psalm 137, “let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not, if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.” 

 

Let us sing together one of the three songs on your song sheets and celebrate, despite her challenges, the miracle that is Jerusalem.

 

Shabbat Shalom!