What Yom Yerushalayim means to me

I remember, as if it were only a few years ago, walking around our neighborhood in Flushing, NY, door to door with my parents, a”h, collecting money for the Israel Emergency Fund. Israel was at war and funds were desperately needed. Without fail, neighbor after neighbor was aware and concerned, and everyone was giving us money to help Israel. This was not a particularly Jewish neighborhood. We did not have a list of people to solicit. It seemed we just knocked on almost every door, and everyone wanted to help.

There was a great sense of urgency. Our beloved homeland, Israel was under great threat. I had heard that our enemies wanted to “push us into the sea.” It sounded terrifying. We had to do whatever we could. That entailed praying and collecting tzedakah.

We had no idea what the outcome would be. We were deeply concerned.

Today is the anniversary of my realization that I MUST live in ISRAEL- Eretz Yisrael. It was obvious. I heard “Yerushalayim B’yadaynu”: Jerusalem is in our hands. I heard about it in the middle of the day at the Jewish school I attended. It was June 7th, a Wednesday. Israel had re-captured Jerusalem!

This was obviously a miracle. It wasn’t merely like having read many times that G-d had split the Sea of Reeds and Jews walked through on dry land. This was a miracle in the “here and now.” This wonder was unfolding at that time.

The situation in Israel, the Jewish homeland, suddenly changed. Israel had been on the brink of being annihilated. Israel was now winning the war. The victory was happening, and rapidly.

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to visit Israel until 1971, my decision to make aliyah was made in 1967 during the Six Day War. It was only a matter of time.

In the next year, I befriended Leora, who was the new girl in the Jewish day school I attended. She was the daughter of emissaries to the US for a Zionist organization.

When it came to visiting Israel, she warned me to have very low expectations whenever I do have the chance to go there for the first time. She didn’t want me to be disappointed, especially considering that she knew how passionately in love I was with Israel.

She was born and raised in Netanya, and told me that it was quite scary during the Six Day War. Netanya was at the bottleneck of Israel at the time – the narrowest place in the whole country. She told of blackouts and of how people painted over the car lights in dark blue so as not to be seen at night during the war.

Going back to June 1967, I was not yet a bat mitzvah. Still, I had a vivid sense of the enormity of that moment in the history of our people. In hindsight, I feel extremely blessed to have had the ability to understand, in real time, something of the significance of the reunification of Jerusalem. I along with most of the Jewish people had an incredible feeling of relief and exhilaration that our nation had a tremendous deliverance from destruction.

After 54 years of longing to live here, I got to make aliyah with my husband and one of our children. I am very grateful. I thank G-d every day.

It’s complicated right now with the war going on. It’s difficult and painful. Still, I feel like so many other olim, I am “living the dream.”

I pray for us to merit “only good news” rak b’sorot tovot, from now on. I beseech G-d for all of the many kinds of healing that our people need so badly!

May our redeemer come speedily to resolve all of our conflicts and suffering, and bring a true and lasting peace to Israel and the world.

May the hostages of our people return home and become whole.

May our dear brave soldiers, return home whole in soul and body.

May Israel have a decisive victory so our people can return to their homes in the Gaza Envelope and in the North from where they have had to flee.

May our internal refugees have all of the healing that they need.

May the many soldiers and other wounded have a complete recovery.

May there be a lasting secure peace in Yehudah and Shomron.

May all of these happen immediately!

May our entire people recover from the enormous trauma that was unleashed on Simchat Torah now!

L’shana hazeh, b’Yerushalayim HABENUYA, “This year in the REBUILT Jerusalem!”

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About the Author
I’m passionate about Judaism, Israel & using my abilities to help others. I'm a licensed clinical social worker/psychotherapist. Born & raised in Queens, NY, I've also lived in Binghamton, Ann Arbor, Wynnewood, Bergenfield & Silver Spring while my heart was always in Israel. I was recently blessed to make aliyah-the fulfillment of my lifelong dream with my family. I am very grateful to G-d for all of it.