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Jerusalem Day–40th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem

June 12, 2007
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The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was a watershed event in Jewish history that began close to 2,000 years of mourning for the Holy City, which has always been of central importance to the Jewish people. Every year at the Passover celebration, the closing lines declared by those outside Israel include the words, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Jewish people pray facing in the direction of Jerusalem, and all of their prayer services are filled with references to Jerusalem.

According to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was to be an international city, not part of either the proposed Jewish or Arab state. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan, but the Arab leadership rejected it; all surrounding Arab nations and armies subsequently invaded Israel. After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the city was divided between Israeli and Jordanian control. Jordan controlled Jerusalem's Old City and the eastern side of Jerusalem and killed or forced the Jewish people in those areas out. They were forbidden from entering Jordanian Jerusalem, including their holy sites, and most Jewish cemeteries and synagogues throughout the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) were desecrated. In 1967, East Jerusalem—the location of the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site—was captured by Israel during the Six Day War, which ended in a cease-fire on June 11. The government proclaimed the 28th of Iyar as “Jerusalem Day,” the date that the Israeli military conquered those parts of Jerusalem that had previously been in Arab possession.

Worldwide, Jewish people commemorate Jerusalem Day by saying the full Hallel prayer (Psalms of Praise, 113–118), dancing, and learning about Jerusalem’s history, but the celebrations in Jerusalem are unequaled. Thousands march through the city including the liberated Old City. The march ends at the Kotel (Western Wall), the only remaining retaining wall of the Temple Mount from the Second Temple period. At the Kotel, there are speeches, concerts, and celebratory dancing. A festive Hallel is recited during the evening prayers. Many rabbis say that the liberation and reunification of the entire city of Jerusalem is an even greater miracle than Jewish political sovereignty over other parts of the Land of Israel.

To Christians, the reunification of Jerusalem is significant because of the words Yeshua (Jesus) spoke to His disciples about future events that would precede His return. “…Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled…Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:24b, 27–28).

Many biblical scholars believe that this prophecy was fulfilled in June of 1967, on the 28th of Iyar. Certainly, we are living in momentous days when the words of Yeshua are alive in our hearts.

By Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO

Photo Credit: www.israelimages.com/

Photo Credit: www.israelimages.com/ David Rubinger

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