Why Jews are so sure that Jerusalem belongs to them

Avraham was the first man on earth to understand that G-d rules the world.

And G-d called Avraham and He said to him ‘Avraham’ and Avraham said ‘here I am’. And G-d said ‘Please take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, where I will tell you’, (Bereshit, 22:2). 

And Avraham got up early in the morning, rushing to perform G-d’s commandment and he arrived to the land of Moriah and tried to sacrifice his son. But an angel came from Above and stopped him. So Avraham took a ram and offered it up as an offering intead of his son.

And Avraham named that place G-d will see’ . To this day it is the mountain of G-d’s revelation where G-d will be seen. (Bereshit, 22:14).

That place named ‘land of Moriah’ and then ‘G-d will select’ was Jerusalem.

In that place David, the first King of Israel, built his royal residence and he proclaimed it capital of his reign.

On that tiny piece of land King Solomon, David’s son, built the first Jewish Sanctuary, following G-d’s instructions.

In 578 BCE Nebuchadnezzar conquered the land, destroyed the sanctuary and exiled the Jewish nation into their first diaspora in Assyria and Mesopotamia where ‘by the rivers of Babylon they sat and cried, remembering Zion’.

After 70 years, Ezrah and Nechemia, two Jewish prophets, rebuilt the sanctuary in Jerusalem.

When Antiochus Epiphanes attacked the area and his Greek Seleucid army tried to prevent the Jews from using their sanctuary, the Jewish army led by Judah Maccabee fought back and won.

During the first century BCE Romans conquered Judea and destroyed the second Sanctuary in 70 CE. exiling the Jews for a second time into a diaspora that spread throughout the world.

The Muslims, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottomans and the British all tried to conquer Jerusalem and the land of Israel.

However, on each and every day of these 1947 years in Diaspora, Jews have been mentioning Jerusalem in every prayer, have been turning to Jerusalem three times a day, have been breaking a glass during their weddings saying ‘If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill, may my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I don’t remember you’.

Jews went back to their land crossing the sea, the desert, facing snow and robbers. There was a continual Jewish presence in Jerusalem, so that there was never one single minute since King David’s reign without Jewish breath in Jerusalem.

Dear President Trump,

Thank you for reminding our nation that we are in Israel not because it is a hard land and we love challenges and not because it is a desert and we love particularly high temperatures.

We are not in Israel because we did not have any other place to go. We did not want to settle in Uganda when it seemed the only option.

Wherever we are, we keep turning to the East, to Jerusalem.

There our first patriarch showed his endless ties and love to G-d in that place.

Judaism is not only a culture, it is not only a language, a tradition, it is not only a long chain of history, sacrifice and love.

Judaism is not only a way of thinking, a love for knowledge, for innovation and peace.

Judaism is all of this, but without one essential element, Judaism would not exist anymore.

This element is the Jewish faith in the King and Creator of the world, despite all the odds, despite many tragedies and persecutions,

Jerusalem is the symbol of the eternal love of the Jews for G-d.

Gheula Canarutto Nemni

About the Author
Gheula Canarutto Nemni is a professor and novelist living in Milan, Italy. Her most recent novel '(Non) si può avere tutto' Mondadori 2015 tells the story of an Italian Orthodox Jewish girl and her challenges in the professional world in Milan.