“Next year in Jerusalem”
has been for centuries,
the mantra of the Jewish people.
At the conclusion of the Passover seder
and at end of weddings by breaking a glass,
the destruction of Jerusalem was remembered.
From May 1948 to June 1967,
the years under Jordanian occupation,
reaching the Kotel, Western Wall or
walking near the Temple Mount,
was only for the imagination or in a dream.
A view from a look out at Notre Dame,
over a dangerous No Man’s Land,
was as close as a Jew could get.
For those under the age of 60,
the drama and trauma of the Six-Day War,
and the resulting victory are taken for granted.
The rush of feelings, of a miraculous deliverance
against giant Arab armies attacking on all sides is lost.
The significance of
Jerusalem 50 and its many celebrations are shrugged off,
for today tens of thousands can reach the Kotel Plaza to pray.
However, the Six-Day War,
also saw the return to Gush Etzion,
a distance 16 kilometers south of the Knesset.
And in the north,
the beautiful Kineret, Sea of Galilee,
had Syrians in those Golan Heights towering above.
Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus
was closed after a convoy of medical staff was ambushed
and 73 people were murdered in April 1948.
This memorial wall in the Mt. Scopus memorial garden
was backdrop for a reenactment of Hadassah getting its keys back
from Mayor Teddy Kollek, in June of 1967.
And the West Bank,
which was for centuries known as Judea and Samaria,
the land of Benjamin,
stretches as far as the eye can see,
and includes Tel Shilo,
which for 369 years was location of the Holy Ark,
before the time of King David and the Temple in Jerusalem.
Half a century.
This is a wondrous time to be in Jerusalem, Israel.
The days of choking polluted air
from vehicles stuck in heavy traffic on Yaffa Road,
are vanishing memories, as the light rail trains run by.
things are far from perfect,
but I would not want to go back to 51 years ago.