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Jerusalem Day

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Jerusalem Day
Jom Jeruschalajim.jpg
Jerusalem Day 2007, Jaffa Road
Official name Hebrew: יום ירושלים‎‎ (Yom Yerushalayim)
Observed by State of Israel
Type National
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 (Hebrew calendar)
Date 28 Iyar
2016 date June 5
2017 date May 24
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 the aftermath of the June 1967 Six-Day War. The day is officially marked by state ceremonies and memorial services.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to mark the regaining of access to the Western Wall.[1][2][3]

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 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.[4]

As soon as Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was attacked 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.[5]

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[6] 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:[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 June 11, 1967.


Jerusalem Day 2004 at the Western Wall.

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 lah yachdav"—"Built-up Jerusalem is like a city that was joined together" (Psalm 122:3).[10]

In 1977, the government advanced the date of Jerusalem Day by a week to avoid it clashing with Election Day.[11]

Logo of 40th anniversary celebrations, Jaffa Gate.

The slogan for Jerusalem Day 2007, celebrated on May 16,[12] 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.

In 2015, Yad Sarah a non-profit volunteer organization began organizing a special tour specifically for wheelchair bound residents, which focuses on Jerusalem history.[13]

The Yakir Yerushalayim (Hebrew: יַקִּיר יְרוּשָׁלַיִם‎; English: Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) prize is awarded annually by the Jerusalem municipality on Jerusalem day.

In 2017, the Jubilee Year of Jerusalem day will be celebrated. During the course of the year many events marking this milestone took place in celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Jerusalem.


While the day is not widely celebrated outside Israel,[1] and has lost its significance for most secular Israelis,[14][15][16] the day is still very much celebrated by Israel's Religious Zionist community[17][18] with parades and additional prayers in the synagogue.

Religious observance

Religious Zionists recite special holiday prayers with Hallel.[2][19] Although Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was reluctant to authorise its inclusion in the liturgy,[20] 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.[21]

Some Haredim (strictly Orthodox), who do not recognise the religious significance of the State of Israel, do not observe Yom Yerushalayim.[22][23] Rabbi Moses Feinstein maintained that adding holidays to the Jewish calendar was itself problematic.[24]

Support and opposition

On Jerusalem Day (1992), the Jerusalem Convention was signed, declaring the State of Israel's loyalty to the city.

On Yom Yerushalayim 5755 (1995) at the Ammunition Hill ceremony, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the chief of staff in the Six-Day War, expressed his allegiance to a unified Jerusalem, in a statement that came in response to the Right's claims that the Oslo plan would divide Jerusalem and build Highway 1 The seam line and between East and West Jerusalem, is in effect a declaration of the government's intention to set the border there.

Some elements of the left and of the Arab public in the State of Israel regard Jerusalem Day as a day marking the conquest of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, with the power involved in their opinion.[25] In 2014, the Meretz faction submitted a bill to repeal the Jerusalem Day Law.[26]

There has been controversy pertaining to the celebration of Jerusalem Day. Among the left wing and the Arab population of Jerusalem there are questions of the settlement of eastern Jerusalem and the claim of Jerusalem as a capitals for the State of Israel. One of the celebrations marking Jerusalem Day if the youth parade with flags – known as Rikud Hadegalim (translated as "Dance of the flags") 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 strain of controversy has been felt during the Jerusalem day parade. violent interactions have been reported between Arabs and Israeli youth during.[27]

In May 2015, High Court of Justice rejected a petition to keep 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.[28]

Ethiopian Jews' Memorial Day

A ceremony is held on Yom Yerushalayim to commemorate the Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Eretz 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.[29][30]

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

See also


  1. ^ a b http://www.bethjacobrwc.org/yomyerushalyim.html
  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. ^ "Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day | Jewish Virtual Library". jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA)". passia.org. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  5. ^ "A New Ruin Rising - Culture – Forward.com". forward.com. 2007-11-07. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  6. ^ Alan M. Dershowitz, The case for Israel, p.93/
  7. ^ "Prime Minister speech". pmo.gov.il. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  8. ^ "Knesset speeches". knesset.gov.il. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  9. ^ 40th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16 May 2007
  10. ^ My Jewish Learning: Yom Yerushalayim
  11. ^ 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. 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. 
  12. ^ "Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) in Israel". timeanddate.com. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  13. ^ "Yad Sarah helping wheelchair-bound residents celebrate Jerusalem Day with tour on wheels – Business & Innovation – Jerusalem Post". jpost.com. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  14. ^ 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 0-8143-2750-8. 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. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ Rabbi Ariel, Yakov. "Hallel on Yom Yerushalayim". yeshiva.co. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ Should one recite Hallel on Jerusalem Day?, Shlomo Brody, Jerusalem Post, 17 May 2012.
  22. ^ 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…. 
  23. ^ 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). 
  24. ^ Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society. Yeshiva Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. 1994. p. 61. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  25. ^ Yishai Friedman, Students Against Jerusalem: "Legitimizing the Occupation," April 4, 2013, NRG
  26. ^ Jonathan Liss, Meretz demands canceling the definition of Jerusalem Day as a "national holiday," Ha'aretz, May 27, 2014. The text of the bill is on the Knesset website.
  27. ^ ‘Go to Hell, Leftist’ and Other Jerusalem Day Slogans The Jewish Daily Forward, 29 May 2014
  28. ^ 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."
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Paying tribute to Ethiopian Jews who didn't make it – Israel News – Jerusalem Post". jpost.com. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 

External links