Sunday is Yom Yerushayalim (Jerusalem Day), one of Israel’s most recent celebratory days. It marks the day, in the midst of 1967’s Six-Day War, that Jerusalem was reunified under the Israeli flag.
Following Israel’s losses during the War of Independence, the Kingdom of Jordan controlled half of Jerusalem, including the entire Old City. While the War of Independence was being fought, and during the 19 years following, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was partially destroyed, and Jews were forbidden from praying at the Western Wall—the closest remains of the Holy Temple. The Mount of Olives, facing the Old City, was plundered for building materials for the Jordanian half of Jerusalem.
As Israel began recreating itself as a modern nation, the longing to set Jerusalem as its capital remained strong, even among many wholly secular Zionists. As Psalm 137: 5-6 reminded them: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. / May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”
Under pressure from Egypt, Jordan entered the Six-Day War in opposition to Israel. On June 7, 1967 (corresponding to the Hebrew date of 28 Iyar), Israel liberated Jerusalem from Jordanian control. There were celebrations throughout Israel; iconic photographs from this day include soldiers at the Western Wall for the first time in 19 years.
Israel rebuilt the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, and today it’s a thriving community open to residents and visitors from all over the world. As new buildings mingle with archeological remnants dating back to the time of King David, the words of the prophet Zechariah seem to be coming to fruition.
“This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain. ”
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there. ”
[This verse is inscribed in a wall of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem in the photo below.]
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the Lord Almighty.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.” (Zechariah 8:3-8)
It is amazing to live in Israel and to see the Lord's word brought to life!