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The miracle of being in Jerusalem for Yom Yerushalayim

  • RabbiGoldman2
I have just returned from the most extraordinary, exhilarating, breath-taking, inspirational adventure. To be in Israel, and especially Jerusalem, on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and the Reunification of Jerusalem, really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And all 38 of us - on our Sydenham Shul “Jerusalem 50” Israel Tour - were privileged to be part of it all.
by RABBI YOSSY GOLDMAN | Jun 02, 2017

All of Israel is a miracle but the Six Day War was arguably its biggest miracle ever. To have defeated the far larger and much better-equipped armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in six days flat, was a miracle of Biblical proportions.

It was clearly a miracle from G-d who came to the assistance of Israel's brave, heroic soldiers. And then we conquered the Old City of Jerusalem, which wasn't even in our sights. Who can forget General Motta Gur's famous, historic words "Har Habayit Byadeinu - the Temple Mount is in our hands!"

So, there was much to thank the One Above for at this time. And thank Him we certainly did. There were special prayers throughout the city and especially at the Kotel - the Western Wall -  with tens of thousands davening and praising Hashem for His great miracles of deliverance.

On Tuesday night, the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem was filled to capacity to hear chazan Chaim Adler and his choir, along with speeches by the Chief Rabbi and the Mayor of Jerusalem.

Then on Wednesday morning some 30 000 people gathered at the Kotel for the morning service. There, the chazan had to use a microphone to be heard over the crowds. Then, leading rabbis recited special prayers for the Israel Defence Forces and Jerusalem. I davened near Chief Rabbi Mervis of the UK. The festive davening and dancing was quite extraordinary.

A special highlight for us was having our own Sydenham Shul minyan “at the Western Wall on the previous Friday night”. We sang and danced around the bimah after Lecha Dodi, joined by other visitors from around the world. 

From then on it was highlight after highlight of events I will never forget.

At the Tower of David, we watched an artistic sound and light show, which was projected onto the walls of the historic tower. It told the story of Jerusalem from its very beginnings until now.

There was a moving ceremony for our heroic fallen fighters at Ammunition Hill, the famous site of one of the fiercest battles for Jerusalem in 1967. We watched a powerful movie featuring the soldiers of that actual battle telling their stories to their grandchildren.

Tuesday night was called a “White Night”, not only because of the fireworks, but there were concerts throughout the city at all hours of the night. In the evening, there was another special service at the Great Synagogue, symphony concerts at various public squares at different times of the night, and I even saw a concert with Israeli singing star Idan Reichel advertised for 04:00! (No, I didn’t make that one up!)

The grand finale of the celebrations was a festive march to the Kotel, through the Old City, by thousands upon thousands. Blue and white dominated the city landscape. In all my visits over the years, I have never seen the streets of the Old City so packed with people as on that day.

Even during the day, the Old City was literally shoulder-to-shoulder!

And for some reason a certain Donald J Trump decided this was the right time for him to visit Jerusalem too. So, we were compelled to adjust our itinerary to make sure we stayed out of his way and could get to our chosen destinations without huge delays.

Thank G-d, we managed, (more or less) with only a few disappointments. No, I didn’t meet him, we just saw a few helicopters over Jerusalem and assumed it was his party.

None of these hiccups dampened our spirits, though, as it was simply incredible to be in Jerusalem then. The atmosphere, the energy, the massive crowds, were all part of a most magical experience. The vibe was unbelievable. Just to be there and soak it all in personally, was an absolute honour and a privilege.

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