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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
The Municipality of Jerusalem Website
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.