YOM YERUSHALAYIM – pronounce “YOM” to rhyme with “comb.” “YERUSHALAYIM” is pronounced with a short “e,” long “u,” and short “a’s”. The “i” is pronounced as a long “e” as in “deed.” The accent is on “LA”;
YOM YERUSHALAYIM – HEBREW FOR “JERUSALEM DAY.”
Yom Yerushalayim will be observed sundown, Monday, May 23 to sundown May 24, 2017. This is Iyyar 28 in the Jewish calendar.
After Israel had declared its independence in 1948, it was immediately attacked en masse by its Arab neighbors. East Jerusalem and the Old City came under Jordanian control, and the Israelis could not dislodge them. Jewish residents were forced out of this area. The Western Wall (Wailing Wall), the most sacred site in Judaism, was desecrated, and the area around it was turned into a public dump. Jewish people were denied access to it. The Jordanians built houses right by the Wall. The Jewish Quarter in the Old City was destroyed, and half of the Old City’s 58 synagogues were demolished. The Jewish cemetery on the Mt. of Olives was plundered for tombstones which were used as paving stones and building materials. Jewish life in the Old City was miserable under Jordanian rule.
In 1967, in order to win an inevitable war, Israel pre-emptively attacked Syria and Egypt. Egypt had been amassing troops. At that time, the Golan Heights were part of Syria, and the kibbutzim that were below were regularly shelled. East Jerusalem was still part of Jordan. The Israelis warned Jordan not to join the conflict, but of course, they did not listen.
On this very important day in 1967 (Wednesday, June 7), the third day in the Six-Day War, Israeli forces defeated the Jordanian army as they broke through the Lions’ Gate of the Old City wall and entered the area in which Jewish people had been refused access since 1948. They captured the Old City and the surrounding areas of East Jerusalem. These areas were later merged with Israeli West Jerusalem, and united Jerusalem once again became the capital of Israel. The commemoration of this momentous day is Jerusalem Day and will be observed sundown June 4 – sundown June 5. This is Iyyar 28 in the Jewish calendar.
Yom Yerushalayim is gradually becoming a “pilgrimage” day, when thousands of Israelis travel (some hike!) to Jerusalem to demonstrate solidarity with the city. This show of solidarity is of special importance to the state of Israel, since the international community has never approved the “reunification” of the city under Israeli sovereignty, and many countries have not recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State (The United Nations “partition plan” of November 1947 assigned a status of “International City” to Jerusalem).
The Israeli education system devotes the week proceeding this day to enhancing the knowledge of the history and geography of the city, with a special emphasis on the unique role that it played in Jewish messianic hopes since Biblical times. Jewish schools around the world also observe Yom Yerushalayim, and American Jewish people on this important day wave Israeli flags, eat Israeli food, and listen to the music of the Land.
The Israel Rabbinate proclaimed Yom Yerushalayim to be a day of thanksgiving, and directed that the Shacharit (morning) service that day include Psalm 107, the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), as well as a verse-by-verse reading of the “Song of the Sea,” which praises God for His triumph over Israel’s enemies.
The day begins with a thanksgiving service at the Kotel, or Western Wall, attended by thousands of Jerusalemites. Eighteen torches are lit in memory of the soldiers who fell in the battle for Jerusalem. In Judaism, each letter in the Hebrew alphabet is assigned a number. The number eighteen corresponds with the two Hebrew letters that spell “life.” On this day in Jerusalem and throughout the Land, Jewish people participate in both memorial services, as well as parades, picnics, singing, dancing, and other festivities. This important day is also to be celebrated with a festive, joyous meal.
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”
– Tehillah (Psalm) 137:5, 6
“For the LORD hath chosen Zion: he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”
– Tehillah (Psalm) 132:13, 14
** In the Hebrew, the word “desire” both times is in the intensive form! How God desires, longs for Jerusalem and the hearts of those there to be His habitation!! “Jerusalem” means “City of Peace.” There will be no peace there, though, until the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Messiah, inhabits the hearts of those who live there.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper who love thee.”
– Tehillah (Psalm) 122:6