Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jerusalem Day-May 8th and Why It is Important To Us

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                     

The song, "Jerusalem of Gold" pulls at my heart.  My eyes well up with tears.  I learned this song in my ulpan in Haifa with teacher Sarah, the one that also wrote letters to Natan Sharansky keeping his Hebrew lessons going.   The drumbeat with Ofra Haza singing is lifting me up to this wall above and over all of Jerusalem.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH8gtdDA5x0.  I am back in Jerusalem.

"Tomorrow is Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day.  It is the day we commemorate and express thanks for the liberation of the Old City and the reunification of Yerushalayim. As we remember the dear price we Israelis, had to pay for it, we rejoice in the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies and express thanks to G-d, to the brave soldiers of the IDF and those who died for it. I would also like to express special thanks to our enemies for their help in making that dream a reality by imposing a war on us, a war we did not want and never wished for. That war, our enemies, that Six day war that you waged upon us, resulted in the greatest miracle of them all. Yerushalayim, our Eternal Capital is UNITED forever!" (quote from Bat Zion Sacks) She stated this so eloquently.  I cannot do better.  

Since Muslim leaders such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  have been busy trying to erase the Jewish presence and history of Israel,  Many want to take Jerusalem as theirs, but it was and is again the capital of Israel.  For starters, it is situated in the center of the  Judean Mountains.  The Torah holds much of our history and geography facts.  King David took the beginnings of a city in 1010 BCE and Jerusalem  became his capital of his united Israel.  He added the fortress of Zion and the "house of Heroes" for his guard.  There he constructed a tomb right inside the city for himself and his dynasty and transferred the Ark of the Covenant there as well.  David made Jerusalem the religious center of Israel.  It has remained so.  David was a conquerer and made it also the capital of an empire reaching from the Red Sea to the Euphrates, such as G-d had told Abraham that his seed would do.  At the beginning of the 1st century when Jesus was born, it is figured that about 80,000 people lived in Jerusalem.  Today there are over 800,000.

Skipping ahead in time to our near-present to May 14, 1948 when Israel was reestablished as a state through the British mandate and the League of Nations and the United Nations,  Jews had to fight for their lives after this pronouncement as Arabs attacked viciously.  Jerusalem was divided into 2 parts.  The Israel section included the whole of the west and south parts of the New City, including "Mount Zion" and an enclave on Mt. Scopus.  Herzl and other Zionist leaders were re-interred on the mountain, Mt. Herzl,  west of the city.  The city was the administrative center of the country.

On June 5, 1967, Jordanian troops in the Old City and the Jordanian sections of the city bombarded the New City.  Israel's army reacted and 2 days later the entire city came under Israel control.  This was the beginning of the Six Day War.

The first thing Israeli soldiers did was to go in mass visits to the Western (Wailing) Wall, something prohibited to Jews for about 20 years.  They cried, sang, danced and said plenty of prayers for Israel.  Tourists head for this site first, cry, sometimes kiss the ground, and leave their prayers between the rocks of the wall.

On June 29, 1967, the Israeli government formally united the 2 sections of the city and the barriers that had divided them were removed.  The population of the eastern part of the city, including 139,600 Muslims and Christians, are now part of the total population which was 493,500 in 1990.   By 2011 Jerusalem had 801,000 people.  64% were Jews and 36% Arabs.  The breakdown was:  497,000 Jews, 281,000 Muslims, 14,000 Christians and 9,000 undefined.  The growth to 2013 is at 2.5%.  Half of the Jewish people live in either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.   The proportion of ultra-Orthodox Jews has grown rapidly as has the immigrants.

 They all felt the Arab-Jewish cooperation, but also the sabotage that exacerbated their relationships, like when the intifada started in 1987.  Arab states and outsiders instigated trouble.  There are those elements pushing Israel to go back to the 1967 borders, including President Obama with his speech on TV.  Not one to be stopped in progress, Israel continued on with life and their plans to develop the sacred city.  The Jerusalem Law of 1980 extended Israel sovereignty over the entire city.  Excavations which had been carried out at the site of the City of David are now supplemented by diggings around the western and southern walls of the Temple enclosure.

My 3rd cousin, Stanley Goldfoot (1914-2006) , was the Chief of Intelligence before 1948 for the Stern Group, young men who were fighting for Israel's creation before 1948.  He was able to live through it all as told in Genesis 1948 - about the first Arab-Israeli War of 1947-48 by Dan Kurzman.  He had come to what was then called "Palestine" at age 18 on a ship that put up the Swastika flag in the middle of the ocean from his port in South Africa.  He immediately was approached by Sternists upon stepping on shore and signed up which he willingly did.  Eventually he married and lived in Jerusalem on Dor v'Dor Avenue; from Generation to Generation.

Yes, Jews have lived in Jerusalem for generations for 3,283 years, which, when you figure 4 generations per 100 years, means about 131 generations consistently.  There never has been a time when Jerusalem was devoid of Jews.  The city was burned by the Romans in 70 CE, which caused many of us to scatter, but not all.

Israel went through many empires that walked through, mostly as nomads on camels. The conquering Romans renamed the land "Palestine."  Why?  It was to erase the Jewishness of the land, something they had a habit of doing to a conquered people.  There never was the state of Palestine, though.  No king, no president, de nada, nothing.   The Ottoman Empire held it lastly for 400 years and lost it by siding with Germany in WWI.  Before them were the Byzantine Empire,  Sasanids,  Umayyad, and Abbasids,  Many trampled through but did not live here nor care about it.  It was just a part of their empire. Through it all, Jews continued to live and love and learn in Jerusalem, their center.

As Stanley wrote in 1969: "I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to  believe. I am a Jerusalemite-like yourselves, a man of flesh and  blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people. I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a  diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you  or even persuade you. I owe you nothing. You did not build this city,  you did not live in it, you did not defend it when they came to destroy it.

And we will be damned if we will let you take it away. There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York. When Berlin,  Moscow, London, and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a  thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which  you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves- a  humane moral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning.

Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left  alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died  on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their  burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by  sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they  forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither. "

This is but an excerpt of the letter, done in video below.  Hope you listen and watch.  It's how Stanley felt in 1969, shortly after that horrid war.  Yes, Stanley, I'll be thinking of you and all the others tomorrow and all you did to bring about this wonderful day.  

Resource: facebook friend:  Bat Zion Susskind-Sacks, Israel
Letter to the World by Stanley Goldfoot (1969) who lived in Jerusalem  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTM7EzhaG7I
http://www.icjs-online.org/index.php?eid=3461&ICJS=5849&article=1387 printout of Letter to the World
Song: Jerusalem of Gold http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH8gtdDA5x0 by Ofra Haza (most beautiful)

No comments:

Post a Comment