Jerusalem on Our Table

I am writing this message primarily for the Christians and Muslims of the world. Like us, the Jews, Jerusalem for them is a holy city. Less holy for them than for us. For the Jewish people, Jerusalem is the number one holiest city. For Christians, it is less holy than Rome or Bethlehem and for Muslims it is the third holy city after Mecca and Medina.

No nation and no people can have a better claim to Jerusalem than the Jews who established the city in the Kingdom of David about the year 950 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era).

Christians flock to their churches and magnificent cathedrals. Muslims flock to their majestic mosques. And Jews flock to the last standing remnant of our Second Temple, the Western Wall (Kotel), when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. and its Jewish inhabitants were sent into exile in Babylon.

There were no Christians and no Muslims in Jerusalem in those days…the holy city was a Jewish city.

When, after Israel’s independence in 1948, the Jordanian armies overwhelmed the Jewish population of the Old City, imprisoned Jews and ultimately dispersed them into Israeli-held West Jerusalem, the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Abdullah I, annexed east Jerusalem and the Old City with all its holy places into his Jordanian kingdom.

For 19 years Jews were denied worship at the Western Wall. Jewish holy places were desecrated and destroyed. Tombstones from the ancient and oldest Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, were smashed and used as latrines for the Jordanian soldiers and to pave roads.

And we wept for Zion, our holiest city. But then, God remembered His people and in 1967 we liberated our beloved Jerusalem and made it the eternal capitol of Israel.

Interestingly, during the 19 years when the city was under Jordanian occupation, not a single monarch or leader of any Arab or Muslim country in the world came to Jerusalem to worship at Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.

Palestinians did not make claims for Jerusalem until after the 1967 war. Then they woke up and decided that Jerusalem was an Arab city and from that time until now, Palestinian Muslim terrorists deny Jews the right to worship at the site where King Solomon and King Herod built the two Holy Temples.

I do not know what prayers Christians and Muslims recite when they sit at their tables for their three daily meals. But for Jews everywhere, Jerusalem is on the table at each daily meal. And thus do Jews pray:

“Have mercy, O Lord our God, on Israel Your people; on Jerusalem, Your city; on the Temple Mount, the place of Your Glory; on the kingdom of the family of David, Your anointed king; and on the great and Holy Temple which is called by Your Name…. O Lord our God, let us see Zion, Your city, being comforted, and Jerusalem, city of Your Holiness, being rebuilt… May You rebuild Jerusalem, the Holy City, soon in our lifetime. We bless You, O Lord our God, who rebuilds Jerusalem in His mercy. Amen. “

This prayer for our holy Jerusalem is recited at the end of each meal every day.

At Jewish weddings the following is recited:

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. Our captors entreated us to sing a song of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in an alien land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let me forget my right hand; may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember thee , if I raise not Jerusalem up above my chiefest joy”.

And then the groom steps on a glass and smashes it to recall the smashing of Jerusalem by Babylonians and Romans so many centuries ago.

No other people are so bound up and tied to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the Mother of the Jewish people and just as a mother does not forget her children, so too we Jews do not forget our mother… Jerusalem and Zion, city of peace.

Once, from 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was a divided city. Not so anymore. Today Jerusalem is a united and flourishing city and under Israel’s administration so it will ever be. Im yirtzeh Hashem. Insh’Allah. God will it.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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