Montefiore's Windmill and Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem, Israel



Skyline of Jerusalem -- the Dome of the Rock and the Old City in the Foreground; West Jerusalem in the Background Yom Yerushalayim (or Jerusalem Day), which takes place on the 28th day of the Hebrew month Iyar, commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem. This year, observance of Yom Yerushalayim will begin at sundown on May 31, 2011. Israel, by defeating Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, conquered the Old City of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas of East Jerusalem. These areas were later merged with Israeli West Jerusalem (seen in the background of the picture to the right, with the Old City in the foreground). There are parades and festivals in Jerusalem in dedication of this event.


History

In 1000 BCE, King David established Jerusalem as his capital. His son, Solomon built the First Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (currently, the Muslim Dome of the Rock sits on the spot where the Temple was). In 586 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple. Over 100,000 Jews were killed and the rest were exiled to remote locations in Babylon and Persia. In 516 BCE, King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return from exile and rebuild the Holy Temple. However, in 70 CE, Titus and the Romans destroyed the Second Temple that Herod built. Over two and a half million Jews died from execution, battles, famine and disease. Another million Jews were exiled to parts of the Roman empire. Though there have always been Jews in Jerusalem, after the fall of the Second Temple most Jews remained in the Diaspora until the beginning of the modern Zionist movement.

The Western WallPrior to the 1948 War of Independence, what is now Israel was under British control. During British rule and during the Ottoman period before it, Jews were able to pray at the Western Wall (left) in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest site. There was a vibrant Jewish quarter in the Old City and Jews outside of Jerusalem had access to the Old City. When the Old City came under Jordanian control in 1948, the Western Wall was desecrated by Arabs and the Jewish quarter was destroyed. The Jordanians prevented access to the Wall, built houses right by it, and desecrated it. Jewish life in the Old City suffered heavily under the hostile Jordanian rule.

In 1967, in an effort to win an inevitable war, Israel pre-emptively attacked Syria and Egypt. Israel warned Jordan to stay out of the conflict. Jordan, however, was fearful of being accused by the Arabs of restraining so that Israel could attack its fellow Arab countries. Consequently, Jordan joined Syria and Egypt in the war against Israel. In three brutal days of fighting with Jordan, Israel conquered Jerusalem, including the Old City.

Israel, which expected the worst in its fight against three Arab countries, won the war. For a country whose morale was desperately low prior to and during the war, the conquest of Jerusalem marked the historic occasion. Finally, Israel and the Jewish people had authority over their ancestral capital and after 19 years of Jordanian control, the Jews could now pray at the Western Wall. Israel rebuilt the Jewish quarter and now it is, once again, a thriving Jewish neighborhood. They did this while still letting the Islamic Waqf (holy trust) control the Muslim holy sites. Unlike the Arabs, Israel allows access to all the holy sites and prevents the desecration of them that happened under Arab rule.


The Tower of David in the Old CityIsrael annexed the Old City and East Jerusalem and grants citizenship to Jerusalem's Arab population. The reunification of Jerusalem is a source of tension between Jerusalem's Arab and Jewish population. The Palestinian people, in their effort for independence, demand control over East Jerusalem and the Old City, where Islam's Dome of the Rock stands. Israel wants to keep it and ensure Jewish access to the Western Wall and the Jewish quarter.

Yom Yerushalayim is a day of pride for Jews worldwide, who after years of persecution and the Holocaust, finally came back to their ancestral capital and made it their own again.


Practices

Some Jews go to Jerusalem to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim. There is a large parade in Jerusalem on the day, where many Jews march through the Old City in commemoration of the reunification. Jews go to the Western Wall to pray and thank God for returning Jerusalem to the Jews. Many Israelis have picnics
and enjoy the general festivities of the day. American Jews can celebrate by waving the Israeli flag, eating Israeli food, listening to Israeli music — anything that reinforces pride in Jerusalem, Israel, and the Jewish people.


Official Jerusalem Logo
The Municipality of Jerusalem Website
— Official website of the city of Jerusalem. Includes information on its history, events going on in the city, tourism, night life, museums, the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, vital statistics, etc.
http://www.jerusalem.muni.il