Israel Celebrates Jerusalem Day: “The Holiday for the City of the Jewish People’s Yearning”

May 22, 2020

by: Ilse Strauss

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Jerusalem Day celebrations at Damascus gate in Jerusalem in years past

Friday, 22 May 2020 | Sundown yesterday ushered in Jerusalem Day, or Yom Yerushalayim, the anniversary of the reunification of the City of Gold, the eternal capital of Israel. Just over half a century has passed since the searing summer day during the 1967 Six Day War when a brigade of Israeli paratroopers broke through the Lion’s Gate in the Old City, reclaimed the Kotel (Western Wall) and liberated Jerusalem from the occupying Jordanian forces.

Today marks 53 years since the ancestors of Abraham and David returned to their eternal capital, 53 years since the City of Gold was reunited and 52 years since the Jewish people have been able to say, “This year in Jerusalem!”

For the past few weeks, the City of Gold has been decked in blue and white finery. Flags adorned with the Star of David and the Lion of Judah—Jerusalem’s municipal emblem—stream proudly from lamp poles, bridges and high-rises.

This year, Jerusalem Day was celebrated in a less boisterous, more coronavirus-friendly manner. The traditional parade or Flag March that traditionally sees tens of thousands of people—decked out in blue and white—stream from the city center to Damascus Gate, through the Muslim Quarter and on to the Western Wall for the official Jerusalem Day ceremony, was replaced by a human chain of 700 people stationed at 2-meter (6.5-ft) intervals around parts of the Old City. At the same time, a convoy of cars also drove around Jerusalem before encircling the Old City.

The Jerusalem Day ceremony at the Western Wall was also a much smaller affair, with Jerusalem mayor Moshe Lion, the Minister for Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Israel’s chief rabbis and the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites presiding over a handful of selected guests—all stationed 2 meters apart. 

“This is the holiday for the city of the Jewish people’s yearning, our eternal capital—Jerusalem, the holy city we prayed and hoped to return to during 2,000 years of exile,” Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, told those gathered in the shadow of the only remaining physical structure of two temples. “We are privileged in our generation to be able to raise Jerusalem to the peak of our joy, and to have it spread a blessing of peace and solidarity all around the world.”

Speaking at an event at Ammunition Hill, the site of one of the decisive battles for Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled his joy at the city’s reunification 53 years ago. “Before the war, we were afraid that the state would collapse, but in six days everything was overturned and we saw a historic victory. My heart vibrated, I remember it as if it were yesterday. We have returned to the land of our ancestors in Jerusalem,” the prime minister said.

“Jerusalem has always been and will remain with us. It is important for Israel,” Netanyahu concluded. “On this day, those who are in the four corners of the world remember that Jerusalem is the heart and the soul of the country.”

Posted on May 22, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 22, 2020)

Photo Credit: SBurdick/