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Monday, June 6, 2011

Why Shavuot in Jerusalem 1967 is So Important to Jews

Nadene Goldfoot
In 1967 Israel was able to retrieve all of Jerusalem just before Shavuot, one of the three holiest days in Judaism.  It celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai to Moses.  Three million Jews were there witnessing this divine revelation.  The Torah brought monotheism, justice and responsibility to the Jews.  This in turn has been shared with the whole world.  Perhaps the whole world has been changed because of it. 

 The Western Wall, or Wailing Wall is in East Jerusalem.  This was the first time that Shavuot could be commemorated at the Wall since 1948.  It was opened for visitors on this holiday.  Since buses and cars are not used on holidays in Jerusalem, people walked to the wall.  This has been the custom ever since. 

The Wall is usually the first place that Jewish tourists go to when they visit Israel.  The custom is to put a prayer on a piece of paper and put it in the cracks of the wall.  For 19 years Israelis had to wait to have free access to this part of their most important city in all of their history.  They're not about to lose it again.  In their hands Jerusalem has come to life.  Remembering our history is to know how we were made.  The Wall's history goes back to the Temple built by Herod in 19 BCE.  This very wall is the remnant of the wall surrounding the courtyard of that Temple.  It was called the Wailing Wall because people would remember the day the Temple fell to the Romans in 70 AD.  This 2nd Temple brings to our mind Solomon's Temple built in the 10th century BCE.  It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.  The Babylonians came from what is today called Iraq. 

Under Jordan from 1948-June 1967, no Jew could enter East Jerusalem under any condition.  The cemeteries were violated in every way.  The condition of the area was terrible.  Under Israeli rule the area has blossomed for all: Jews, Christians and Muslims.  In 1980 Israel declared Jerusalem complete, united and Israel's capital.  As the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat,  has stated, Jerusalem must not be divided. 


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