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A Passover message from Jerusalem’s mayor

Every family has a journey that connects to the holy city of Jerusalem -- mine began in Salonika
Moshe Lion at the Western Wall, October 2013. (Dovid Katz/File)
Moshe Lion at the Western Wall, October 2013. (Dovid Katz/File)

As Pesach approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about journeys. The journey of our people from slavery to freedom, from exile to the Promised Land. The history of the Jewish people is full of journeys – the stories of the Tanach, the Bible, how our ancestors spread out across the world. Arriving at the mayor’s desk for me is also the end of the journey of generations.

My family is from Salonika. My grandfather came to Eretz HaKodesh (the Holy Land) in 1935. He left a successful business and a life of promise, my father and his siblings, to come here. When he left his comfortable life in Salonika, it was before the Holocaust, and before it was clear how difficult things would become for the Jews.

The first thing he did when he arrived here, was step off the boat and travel to the Kotel, the Western Wall. When asked why he would leave behind such a beautiful life back in Salonika, he said that giving his children and grandchildren a life connected to Jerusalem was worth more than anything. While he ended up in Tel Aviv for a few years, he always said that it was the biggest mistake of his life.

The day I came into office, I told this story at the inauguration ceremony, and I turned to my Abba (father) and told him: “This is the end of Saba’s (Grandpa’s) journey. Can you believe it?” He had tears in his eyes. Today, I go with my Abba to the Kotel almost every Shabbat, in the footsteps of my grandfather.

So I see my work here as something that my family has dreamed of for centuries – to build up Yerushalayim, the holy city of Jerusalem. And I know that my family is not alone in this – the Jewish people are a people of journeys. At every seder table next week, each family will tell not only the story of the journey of our ancestors, but also of the journey of our parents and our grandparents, where they come from, and where the young people are going. Each family has a journey that connects to Jerusalem, which is why every year we end the seder – לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה — Next year in Jerusalem!

About the Author
Moshe Lion is the mayor of Jerusalem.
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