Israel marks Jerusalem Day: a return to Judaism’s holiest shrine

In a modern-day version of David and Goliath, the IDF defeated the occupying Jordanian forces and restored the Temple Mount to Jewish sovereignty in 1967. 

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News  

Jerusalem Day was being marked Sunday in Israel with special prayers, parades, and tours of the Israeli capital.

The date marks the reunification of the holy city under Jewish control in 1967, when Israeli military forces captured the part of the city that had been occupied by Jordan during the first 19 years of the modern Jewish State’s independence.

That part of Jerusalem included the Old City, where Judaism’s holiest shrine – the Temple Mount – is located.

The date is marked according to the Jewish calendar, the 28th of Iyar.

Part of the Six-Day War, which was full of multiple miracles of the tiny state and its limited military repelling several Arab nations, the capture of Jerusalem was especially significant because of the centrality of the city to Jewish history and tradition.

It had been the capital of the Jews since the ancient times of King David, whose son King Solomon built the Holy Temple. It was destroyed in 586 B.C.E by the Babylonians, later replaced by the Second Temple, which was destroyed in 70 C.E. by the Romans. Even in destruction, the site of the Temple is considered as holy by Jewish law and remains Judaism’s holiest shrine.

Through millennia of exile and persecution, Jews have prayed toward Jerusalem and yearned for the return of the Jewish nation to its holy capital. The city is an integral part of prayer and ritual in Jewish tradition to the extent that at wedding ceremonies, the joyous event is stopped for a moment to remember the destruction of Jerusalem and the groom steps on a glass to break it.

When Israel captured the site 52 years ago, IDF commander Mordechai “Motta” Gur shouted the legendary phrase: “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”

Special prayers are recited on Jerusalem Day at synagogues around the country and also in many Jewish communities around the world. One of the major events of the day is a march from the side of Jerusalem which was part of the State of Israel from 1948 to the part of the city captured in 1967, winding up at the Western Wall, an outer wall of the Temple compound.

Though Jerusalem Day is not an Israeli national holiday, many Israeli youth and adults from around the country descend upon the city. The Jerusalem Municipality provides walking tours which tell the story of the battle and the reunification.