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Celebrating the Return to Zion

When I moved to Israel 37 years ago with my family, it was a fulfillment of a life-long dream, a dream that was epitomized by our singing at the conclusion of every Passover Seder, “Next Year in Jerusalem”.  And although I chose to live in Karnei Shomron, in Samaria, and not in Jerusalem, the holy city remains deeply embedded in my heart

Jerusalem is never far from our thoughts and hearts.  I raised five children here, and I cannot count how many times a kindergarten play had the children reenacting the unification of the city in the miraculous Six Day War of 1967.  Dressed up as mini soldiers, they slithered along the floor until they reached the painted poster of the Western Wall and rose, saluting, as a child, wrapped in a prayer shawl would raise a shofar, the ram’s horn, and blow a long note.  And all the children would call out reverently, “The Temple Mount is in our Hands! The Temple Mount is in our Hands!”

CFOIC Heartland tour group praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem

This year, 2021, Jerusalem celebrates 54 years since the 1967 Six Day War, as a unified capital city. In recognition of this miracle, just after the war, the Chief Rabbinate declared a religious holiday… Jerusalem Day, a day that is celebrated with parades and prayer services each year!

There may be those who try to deny Israel’s 3,000-year-old connection to Jerusalem, making unfounded declarations that there is no connection between the Jewish People and the Western Wall or the Temple Mount. But we will continue with the truth of history, the truth of the Bible, God’s truth.

As current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once noted, recollecting his childhood memories of the divided city, of the barbed wire fences, and of the fear of sniper fire: “The liberation of the city changed its situation from its foundation. Jerusalem stopped being a city on the edge and became the capital of Israel—broader, vibrant, built up. This is a great event in Jewish and Zionist history and we will celebrate it accordingly.

But the Six Day War not only gave us Jerusalem – it gave us our Biblical Heartland.  Exactly 54 years ago, in just six days, the IDF liberated all of Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley and returned us to our historic heartland. This is a time of celebration, of jubilation! We will remember the Jewish connection to Judea and Samaria, at such historic and biblical sites as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Shiloh and Kfar Etzion. These parts of Israel are the areas where our forefathers lived, where our nation’s history began. The Six Day War enabled us to return to vital areas of our homeland and completely changed our strategic situation.

The glorious revelries and festivities are not meant to be political, and are not an attempt to protest the mistaken way our capital is perceived in so many countries around the world.  But it is a time when we can all join together — all those who love the Land of Israel, and celebrate together the miracles of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of our ancestral homeland. Our deep connection with these areas rises above any political disagreements or strategic security considerations.

May all of Israel and all those who love this holy land, God’s land, be blessed. As we read in Psalm 122, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you prosper.” Amen.

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