I thought I would try to paint a picture of positively of the centrality of Jerusalem and how Jerusalem was, is and will be shining light. Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE and is coveted by both Christians and Muslims as a consequence of Jewish history. The six day War enabled the unification of Jerusalem. This war was forced on Israel, and Israel was left alone and facing a very formidable defeat by the United Arab Armies led by Egypt which the backing of Russia. They were stabbed in the back by France (read the EU), which was not dissimilar to the British support of the Arabs in 1948 and beyond. Today, we still see that the EU can not tolerate Jewish control over Jerusalem and its Land.
To quote Abba Even “There is no difference whatever between anti-Semitism and the denial of Israel’s statehood. Classical anti-Semitism denies the equal right of Jews as citizens within society. Anti-Zionism denies the equal rights of the Jewish people its lawful sovereignty within the community of nations. The common principle in the two cases is discrimination.”
Anyway, enough with negatives . The Six Day War is a modern miracle and a day that we thank and praise God for allowing us back to a united Jerusalem.
We pray three times for the rebuilding of the building of Jerusalem and after we eat a meal. Jerusalem is so central to our core being, and it a great privilege that I am now able to live here.
The other day in our outside Corona Morning Minyan (Prayer group) around 6.40 AM, my concentration was disturbed by the loud noise of construction. Maybe I was a little bit irritated , and then I remembered the story about Rav Charlap, one of the key disciples of Rabbi Kook, who in is later years was not able to leave his home and was asked if the noise of the building disturbed him. Rabbi Charlap was the Rabbi of the neighbourhood of Sharei Chesed , Jerusalem. His reply, on the contrary, this is a blessing and source of comfort and hope. (me Paraphrasing).
Today, Baruch Hashem, we have a lot of building in Jerusalem, and especially the new Hitech area at the entrance to the City. (so, next time we are inconvenienced by the traffic jam and detour, let us remember that this is a blessing)
I can ramble on how much the city has changed over the century or so, or how fortunate that we are living in the Jerusalem of today, and not prior to 1967. We also need to show appreciation to those who help defend our little country, from our local grocery shop owner who modestly served for many years as an officer in the army to countless others who contributed and given their lives to that we enjoy the fruits of the labours. Thank you. For more readings, and photos of Now and then, see the links at the end of the Blog.
Another famous sentence from our prayers is – For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. This sounds much better in Hebrew and both the Rebuilding and these words were made into songs by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
So, I want to focus on the rebuilt Jerusalem being an inspiration to the world, not only in the historical religious role but also the way Jerusalem is a shining light to the world and leading by example in presenting Judaism as being more Spiritual, Charity and Technology for the betterment of mankind.
I cannot do justice in a short blog to the myriad of Organisations in these spheres. (I am not even going write about all the Torah and Yeshivas in Jerusalem which itself is a blessing). In these Covid19 times, we have some of these Spiritual Organisations rising to new heights by going online to shine the Beauty of Judaism and Israel to the world. To name a few, the OU, Mizrachi, AishTV, and Simchat Shlomo Yeshiva.
We have seen the story of Hatzalah and the founder Eli Beer who himself was on life support for 28 days and survived COVID-19. United Hatzalah of Israel presents FREE YOM YERUSHALAYIM VIRTUAL CONCERT , MAY 21st- 8PM Israel time, 6PM UK time, 1pm EST, 10AM PST
Another great initiative is Shabbat of a Lifetime http://shabbatofalifetime.com/ The Shabbat of a Lifetime program offers an opportunity for incoming tourists of all backgrounds to experience an authentic Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) at the home of a host family in the heart of Jerusalem. Instead of eating at the Hotel on Shabbat, they eat at local families. This was and is a major success that allows both Jewish and non-Jewish Visitors to connect to Shabbat and locals in Jerusalem. Maybe, with International tourism now not so certain, it is time to open up this program to Israelis all over Israel.
Jerusalem is blessed with a leading University in Israel, and two Hospitals. It is from this base, that Jerusalem has and is continuing to be a leading centre of Innovation in Biotech, Digital Health, Mobility (Smart Driving), Ai (Machine Learning), and Tech for Good.
Jerusalem is now also home to Israeli innovation Authority which in the new modern version of the Chief Scientist https://innovationisrael.org.il/en/. While Jerusalem is home to some leading Venture Capital Players as JVP, Mass Challenge, OurCrowd, I want to focus on some of the grassroots organisations and initiatives in Jerusalem.
The common theme is here is using Technology for the better of Society, Do you know that the market size of Good Tech is more than CyberTech and FinTech together, and enjoys double-digit growth? And this includes Sectors such as Ed tech , Senior tech , Med tech, Digital Health – Wellness, Assistive tech.
This spirit of this led by The Arc Impact Foundation https://www.arcimpact.org/ who strives to create impact through blending strategic philanthropy & impact investing in the areas of education, workforce training, assistive technology, and healthcare. Their mission is to help building impact portfolios in which capital is strategically deployed across an arc of instruments ranging from philanthropy to investing. Our goal is to utilize philanthropic funding to build future impact investing opportunities and to help build the growing field of impact investing. Another example is Hilma whose Mission is – We believe that everyone has the right to enjoy a good life, filled with support and empowerment. They have approx. 20 Programs which can be found on https://www.english.hilma.tech/projects
We are blessed quite a few Organisations providing a base, forum , and meetups to help promote Local Start-ups and people in Jerusalem. We have seen the likes of Wework, Mass Challenge Microsoft , Google all looking to pay an active role.
One such initiative is https://www.madeinjlm.org/ who host monthly events promoting different aspects of the tech ecosystem in Jerusalem. Another example is JLM-BioCity is a non-profit organization focused on developing and excelling Jerusalem’s bio-community. We invite you, researcher, professional and executive to become part of our vision, in building Jerusalem’s Biomed eco-system. https://jlm-biocity.org/
May we all be blessed to appreciate and celebrate every moment of Life. Shabbat, every word and letter of Torah, every day in Eretz Yisrael, the Holy Land. We should be blessed to appreciate every Jewish soul and to truly believe that every one of us has the potential to make the world a better place,
When Rebbe Nachman came to Eretz Yisrael he said that he now understood why it says in the opening verses of our Parsha “and it shall be when you will come to the land that אני נותן I Am giving to you,” in the present tense. (Usually, the Torah says to the Land that I have given to you, in the past tense.) In Eretz Yisrael Rebbe Nachman truly experienced Hashem giving us Eretz Yisrael anew, each day. If one merits to really live in Eretz Yisrael, each day is sweeter than the day before, each day you feel more of the beauty and holiness of the Land; it’s a new gift each day!
If you interested in contributing to this vision, and play a part in the Jerusalem Eco System in a practical way, please feel to be in touch with me at Jeffrey@persofi.com.
Jerusalem – Then and now