I want to tell you a story.
It’s a story that is as old as the world we know, and yet as fresh as the morning dew.
It’s a story about love and romance, about sacrifice and sorrow, about heartache and despair, about anguish and joy, about loss and gain, about the past and the future. It’s about losing everything that was ever dear to you in the world, and yet finding it again. It’s about miracles and mysticism, about faith and perseverance.
It’s a story about a city that lies on a hilltop, a city that glistens in the morning dawn and sparkles in the evening dusk. Within its narrow corridors which twist and turn lie echoes of the whisperings of great minds and great poets and great sages. If you press yourself against the wall and listen carefully, you can still hear the ancient chants of faith and belief.
But it’s also a story of blood spilt and tears shed, and catastrophes and disasters. It’s about the end of the world…and yet the rebirth of it too.
It’s a war story. And a love story. And a story about peace. It’s the story about one person and also the story about all people. It’s the story of a nation and a people that never gave up.
It’s the story of Jerusalem, a city like no other. A city that breathes and weeps and laughs with its people. A city where the past and the present are melded together in a dance across the pages of time.
During its long history, first settled over 5000 years ago, this city has been under attack 52 times, been captured and recaptured 44 times, been under siege 23 times and destroyed twice.
3000 years ago, King David declared this city the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel – and it has remained the capital of the Jewish people ever since. Even when the city was physically ripped from our desperate hands, it remained embedded in our hearts and in our dreams and in our prayers and in our books, mentioned in our Bible almost 700 times.
Our love for this city remained strong. Time did not cause it to dissipate, and distance did not cause it to waver. Many nations occupied our city and tried to sever our connection by rewriting history, by renaming it, by pretending Jewish history never existed. But you cannot break a connection that’s bonded with more than just the physical world, but the spiritual one too. You cannot ignore the thousands of years of Jewish history in this place, because the rocks know, and the hills know, and the sands know – and we know.
From the Romans who expelled us and tried to wipe out our connection, to the Islamic Caliphate who built their Dome of the Rock over the ruins of our Temple, or the Jordanians who committed ethnic and cultural cleansing of the Jewish Quarter, to the UN who continually pass resolutions saying we have no history, or the Arab world who suddenly discovered Jerusalem was Holy once the Jews had returned.
Despite all these attempts to wipe us away, the Jews have never given up their claim – a claim that is as eternal as the universe in which we live.
This city of gold whose richness expands across so many levels has endured through the worst of human nature and the best of it too, through the worst of times and the best of times. And despite the many years it lay in ruins and in neglect, its aura never vanished and its light never dimmed and its power never diminished. The same spirit that breathed life into this Holy city when it was nothing more than a collection of small dwellings, is there still, making its presence felt through the myriad of cobble stone roads, and darkened alleys.
Under Israeli rule, an unprecedented freedom has once again returned to this city, where all faiths can pray in devotion. The 19 years of horror between 1948 and 1967 when the world once again ignored the cries of Jewish anguish, when the Arabs would not allow Jews to pray to their most Holy places have truly gone, and never again should this city be entrusted to any under authority on earth, except for the only people on earth who have always loved and nurtured and cared and spent their entire history devoted to it.
Jerusalem is about so many things and so many people, but mostly… it’s about dreams… and about never giving them up, and how no matter how dark and hopeless the world can be, there will always lie within that darkness a flickering flame of hope that will burn eternally.