Jerusalem Day

Extended-protected article
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jerusalem Day
The Israeli Dance of Flags at Jaffa Road, 2007
Official nameיום ירושלים‎ (Yom Yerushaláyim)
Observed byIsraelis, Jews
SignificanceMarks the reunification of East Jerusalem with West Jerusalem under Israel; the first time the whole city came under Jewish rule since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE during the Jewish–Roman wars
CelebrationsDance of Flags
Date28 Iyar (Hebrew calendar)
2023 dateSunset, 18 May –
nightfall, 19 May
2024 dateSunset, 4 June –
nightfall, 5 June
2025 dateSunset, 25 May –
nightfall, 26 May
2026 dateSunset, 14 May –
nightfall, 15 May
First time12 May 1968

Jerusalem Day (Hebrew: יום ירושלים, Yom Yerushaláyim) is an Israeli national holiday that commemorates the "reunification" of East Jerusalem (including the Old City) with West Jerusalem following the Six-Day War of 1967, which saw Israel occupy East Jerusalem and the West Bank, effectively annexing the former. It is celebrated annually on 28 Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, and is marked officially throughout Israel with state ceremonies and memorial services.

A notable celebrations that marks the holiday is a flag-flying parade known as the Dance of Flags. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day to be a minor religious holiday, as it marks the regaining for Jewish people of access to the Western Wall.[1][2]

Historical background

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin in the entrance to the old city of Jerusalem during the Six Day War, with Moshe Dayan and Uzi Narkiss

Under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which proposed the establishment of two states in British Mandatory 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.[3]

A civil war between Jewish forces and Palestinian Arabs in Mandatory Palestine internationalized in to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War the day after Israel declared independence and the surrounding Arab states sent their armies in to the former Mandate territory.[4] Jordan captured East Jerusalem and the Old City while Israel captured the western section of the city. Israeli forces made a concerted attempt to dislodge the Jordanians but were unable to do so, and the war concluded with Jerusalem divided between Israel and Jordan by the Green Line. The Old City and the rest of East Jerusalem, along with the entirety of the West Bank, was occupied by Jordan, who forced the Jewish residents out, while the Palestinian Arab residents of western Jerusalem, at the time one of the more prosperous Arab communities, fled widespread looting and attacks by the Haganah, going from 28,000 to fewer than 750 remaining.[5] Under Jordanian rule, half of the Old City's 58 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.[6]

In 1967, in the Six-Day War, Israel captured and occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank from Jordan on 7 June 1967. Later that day, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared what is often quoted during Jerusalem Day:[7][8]

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.[9]

The war ended with a ceasefire on 11 June 1967 with Israel in control of the entirety of territory of Mandatory Palestine, including all of Jerusalem. On 27 June 1967, Israel expanded the municipal boundaries of West Jerusalem so as to include approximately 70 km2 (27.0 sq mi) of territory it had captured in the war, including the entirety of the formerly Jordanian held municipality of East Jerusalem (6 km2 (2.3 sq mi)) and an additional 28 villages and areas of the Bethlehem and Beit Jala municipalities 64 km2 (25 sq mi).[10][11][12] On 30 July 1980, the Knesset officially approved the Jerusalem Law, which called the city the complete and united capital.[13]


On 12 May 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 23 March 1998, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Day Law, making the day a national holiday.[14]

One of the themes of Jerusalem Day, based on a verse from the Psalms, is "Built-up Jerusalem is like a city that was joined together" (Psalm 122:3).[15]

In 1977, the government advanced the date of Jerusalem Day by a week to avoid it clashing with Election Day.[16]

Logo of 40th anniversary celebrations, Jaffa Gate

In 2015, Yad Sarah a non-profit volunteer organization began organizing a special tour specifically for residents who use wheelchairs, which focuses on Jerusalem history.[17]

50th anniversary

In 2017, the golden jubilee of Jerusalem Day was celebrated. During the course of the year many events marking this milestone took place in celebrations of the 50th Jerusalem Day. Many events were planned throughout the year, marking the jubilee. The main theme of the celebrations is the "Liberation of Jerusalem". The celebrations began during Hanukkah 2016, at an official ceremony held at the City of David National Park in the presence of Minister Miri Regev, who is responsible for the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary. A logo was created for the jubilee and presented by the minister Miri Regev.[18]

Events During the Jubilee Year

The ceremony was held at the City of David National Park at the event the ancient "Pilgrims' Route", that led from the City of David to the Temple Mount during the Second Temple period, was unveiled. The ceremony was attended by Knesset members, mayors and the three paratroopers that were photographed by David Rubinger at the Western Wall in 1967. At the event, the Minister Miri Regev was quoted by the press as saying, "Mr. President Barack Obama, I am standing here, on Hanukka, on the same road on which my forefathers walked 2,000 years ago ... No resolution in any international forum is as strong as the steadfast stones on this street." Noting several of the 14 countries that participated in the resolution – including New Zealand, Ukraine, Senegal, and Malaysia – the minister added, "no other people in the world has such a connection and link to their land."[19]


Jerusalem Day 2004 at the Western Wall

While the day is not widely celebrated outside Israel,[1] and has lost its significance for most secular Israelis,[20][21][22] the day is still very much celebrated by Israel's Religious Zionist community[23][24] with parades and additional prayers in the synagogue.

Religious observance

Religious Zionists recite special holiday prayers with Hallel.[2][25] Although Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was reluctant to authorise its inclusion in the liturgy,[26] 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.[27]

Some Haredim (strictly Orthodox), who do not recognise the religious significance of the State of Israel, do not observe Yom Yerushalayim.[28][29] Rabbi Moshe Feinstein maintained that adding holidays to the Jewish calendar was itself problematic.[30]

In 2015, Koren Publishers Jerusalem published a machzor dedicated to observance of Jerusalem Day and Independence Day.[31]


There has been controversy pertaining to the celebration of Jerusalem Day. The settlement of Eastern Jerusalem and the claim of Jerusalem as a capital for the State of Israel is controversial among the left wing and the Arab population of Jerusalem, who regard it as a day marking the conquest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[32]

One of the celebrations marking Jerusalem Day is a youth parade with flags known as Dance of Flags, which begins at Gan Sacher, winds through the streets of downtown Jerusalem, threads through the old city and ends with a gathering for a final prayer at the Western Wall. The parade is controversial, and violent interactions have been reported between Arabs and Israeli youth during the procession.[33]

In 2014, the Meretz political party submitted a bill to repeal the Jerusalem Day Law.[34]

In May 2015, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition to prevent the Jerusalem Day parade from marching through the Muslim sector of the city. The justices said, however, that police must arrest parade participants who shout racist and violent epithets such as "Death to the Arabs!" or commit violent acts.[35]

Ethiopian Jews' Memorial Day

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the ceremony in Jerusalem alongside the Priests of Beta Israel, 1998

A ceremony is held on Yom Yerushalayim to commemorate the Beta Israel who perished on their way to Israel. In 2004, the Israeli government decided to turn this ceremony into a state ceremony held at the memorial site for Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel on Mount Herzl.[36][37]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Beth Jacob | Yom Yerushalayim". Archived from the original on 7 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b Adele Berlin (2011). "Yom Yerushalayim". The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion. Oxford University Press. p. 803. ISBN 978-0-19-973004-9.
  3. ^ "The Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA)". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  4. ^ Yoav Gelber (1 January 2006). Palestine 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. Sussex Academic Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-84519-075-0. Retrieved 14 July 2013. A war between Israel and the Arab States broke out immediately, and the Arab armies invaded Palestine.
  5. ^ Krystall, Nathan (1 January 1998). "The De-Arabization of West Jerusalem 1947-50". Journal of Palestine Studies. 27 (2). Informa UK Limited: 5–22. doi:10.2307/2538281. ISSN 0377-919X. JSTOR 2538281.
  6. ^ "A New Ruin Rising". The Forward. 7 November 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Prime Minister speech". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Knesset speeches". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  9. ^ 40th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16 May 2007
  10. ^ Holzman-Gazit, Yifat (2016). Land Expropriation in Israel: Law, Culture and Society. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-317-10836-8. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  11. ^ Schmidt, Yvonne (2008). Foundations of Civil and Political Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories. GRIN Verlag. p. 340. ISBN 978-3-638-94450-2. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  12. ^ "13 Law and Administration Ordinance -Amendment No".
  13. ^ Knesset website, Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel
  14. ^ "Jerusalem Day". The Knesset.
  15. ^ "My Jewish Learning - Judaism & Jewish Life". My Jewish Learning.
  16. ^ Gideon Aran (19 May 1988). "Mystic-Messianic Interpretation of Modern Israeli History: The Six Day War as a Key Event in the Development of the Original Religious Culture of Gush Emunim". In Jonathan Frankel; Peter Y. Medding; Ezra Mendelsohn (eds.). Studies in Contemporary Jewry : Volume IV: The Jews and the European Crisis, 1914–1921: Volume IV: The Jews and the European Crisis, 1914–1921. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 269. ISBN 978-0-19-505113-1.
  17. ^ "Yad Sarah helping wheelchair-bound residents celebrate Jerusalem Day with tour on wheels – Business & Innovation – Jerusalem Post". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  18. ^ United Jerusalem. Cabinet minister Miri Regev Jubilee logo, with motifs reflecting on King David, the Six Day War and the "Jerusalem of Gold" song written by Naomi Shemer.
  19. ^ City of David unveils latest groundbreaking archeological discovery to mark Jubilee Year Jerusalem Post
  20. ^ Michael Feige (2009). "Space, Place, and Memory in Gush Emunim Ideology". Settling in the Hearts: Jewish Fundamentalism in the Occupied Territories. Wayne State University Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-8143-2750-0. Although part of Israeli secular calendar, it has lost almost all meaning for most Israelis. Attempts to revive the day for the Israeli general public have failed miserably.
  21. ^ Meron Benvenisti (2007). "Jerusalemites". Son of the Cypresses: Memories, Reflections, and Regrets from a Political Life. University of California Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-0-520-93001-8. It is an expression of Jewish antagonism and xenophobia, a chance to hold arcane ceremonies of allegiance and to nurture nationalistic and religious myths. As it grows more routine, the day is drowning in a deep yawn of boredom; perhaps it is no coincidence that the only secular groups that celebrate in the streets of Jerusalem – other than religious zealots on parade – are members of the "pioneer" communities, the kibbutzim and moshavim.
  22. ^ Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (2011). "Jerusalem Day, Nowadays". Change & Renewal: The Essence of the Jewish Holidays, Festivals & Days of Remembrance. The Toby Press/KorenPub. p. 289. ISBN 978-1-59264-322-6. At its inception, Jerusalem Day was a glorious day. This feeling was to a great extent bound up with the Six Day War and its outcome, which for a while produced an exalted feeling of release from dread and anxiety to liberation, well-being, and greatness. Over the years, however, the aura of the day has dimmed.
  23. ^ Eva Etzioni-Halevy (2002). The Divided People: Can Israel's Breakup be Stopped?. Lexington Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-7391-0325-8. In the first years after the 1967 war, and the reunification of Jerusalem, this was a holiday for virtually all parts of the nation. [...] Today, as Jerusalem's symbolic value for many of the secular has been flagging, this transformation has been reflected also in the celebration of this day: fewer and fewer secular people still observe the occasion, and it has turned into a festive day of symbolic significance for the religious.
  24. ^ Judy Lash Balint (2001). Jerusalem Diaries: In Tense Times. Gefen Publishing House Ltd. p. 176. ISBN 978-965-229-271-1. Today, the day commemorating the 34th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem was observed by a shrinking portion of the population. [...] Yom Yerushalayim was celebrated mainly by the national religious community. This was apparent at events all over the city. [...] Clearly a majority of those taking part were observant. This was the day of the knitted kipa. It seems that secular Israelis ave tired of expressions of nationalism.
  25. ^ Rabbi Ariel, Yakov. "Hallel on Yom Yerushalayim". Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  26. ^ Marc Angel (1997). Exploring the thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-88125-578-2. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  27. ^ Should one recite Hallel on Jerusalem Day?, Shlomo Brody, Jerusalem Post, 17 May 2012.
  28. ^ Jewish Affairs. South African Jewish Board of Deputies. 1998. p. 41. Retrieved 8 May 2013. Yet the attitude of the Adath, and indeed of all the Strictly Orthodox congregations, towards Israel and Zionism is paradoxical. On the one hand, events like Yom Ha-Atzma'ut, Yom Ha-Zikaron and Yom Yerushalayim are ignored….
  29. ^ Tzvi Rabinowicz (February 1997). A world apart: the story of the Chasidim in Britain. Vallentine Mitchell. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-85303-261-8. Retrieved 8 May 2013. Although all Chasidim love Zion, they do not approve Zionism. They do not celebrate Yom Atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day), or Yom Yerushalayim (the annual commemoration of the liberation of Jerusalem).
  30. ^ Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society. Yeshiva Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. 1994. p. 61. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  31. ^ "Mahzor for Yom HaAtzma'ut". Koren Publishers.
  32. ^ Yishai Friedman, Students Against Jerusalem: "Legitimizing the Occupation," 4 April 2013, NRG
  33. ^ ‘Go to Hell, Leftist’ and Other Jerusalem Day Slogans The Jewish Daily Forward, 29 May 2014
  34. ^ Jonathan Liss, Meretz demands canceling the definition of Jerusalem Day as a "national holiday," Ha'aretz, 27 May 2014. The text of the bill is on the Knesset website.
  35. ^ High Court allows Jerusalem Day parade to march through Muslim Quarter Haaretz, 11 May 2015. "In recent years, the parade has been characterized by numerous acts of racism and violence against Arabs, as well as damage to property at the hands of marchers."
  36. ^ Ceremony marking the memory of the Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel, Decision No. 1425 of the 30th Government of Israel, 2004, on the website of the Prime Minister's Office.
  37. ^ "Paying tribute to Ethiopian Jews who didn't make it – Israel News – Jerusalem Post". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 29 September 2016.

External links