Shimon Apisdorf

Yom Yerushalayim. Akbar!

Fifty-Seven Years Ago Today: Akbar!

Fifty-seven years ago today, Israel had just celebrated its nineteenth year of independence. Its continued existence was anything but assured.

Fifty-seven years ago, the Soviet Union was arming the Muslim forces of the surrounding Arab armies, and a regional noose was tightening around the throat of the Jewish state.

Fifty-seven years ago today, Muslims would not allow any Jews to visit the Tomb of our matriarch Rachel on the road to Bethlehem.

Fifty-seven years ago today, Egypt and Syria had joined forces and were planning a massive, coordinated attack. The goal of that attack was the annihilation of Israel and the death of its 2.3 million Jewish citizens.

Fifty-seven years ago today, Israelis were told to paint their windows to make it more difficult for Egyptian planes to spot their targets at night.

Fifty-seven years ago today, Muslims would not allow any Jews to visit the Tombs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Hebron.

Fifty-seven years ago, while Israel received no military assistance from the US, President Johnson was exerting massive pressure on Israel not to preemptively defend itself, but rather to wait to be attacked and only then to respond.

Fifty-seven years ago today, Israeli parks were being prepared to become cemeteries and hotels were being readied to serve as makeshift hospitals.

Fifty-seven years ago today, no Jews could enter the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, and certainly none could hope to touch the stones of the Western Wall.

Fifty-seven years ago today, Jews around the world prayed and held their collective breath, unsure if there would still be an Israel tomorrow.

Fifty-Seven Years Ago Today: Allah Akbar! Muslims across the Middle East were preparing to dance on the mass grave of the Jewish state.

Fifty-Seven Years Ago: Birthright? Yeshiva? Akbar!

Fifty-seven years ago, no Jewish student had ever come to Israel on a Birthright trip.

Fifty-seven years ago, almost no Americans would ever consider sending their son to yeshiva in Israel. Seminaries in Israel didn’t even exist yet.

Fifty-seven years ago, almost no Jews outside of Israel had ever visited the young country.

Fifty-seven years ago, almost no American Jews had ever considered vacationing in Israel for Passover or Sukkot, or flying El Al to celebrate a family simcha.

Fifty-seven years ago, Next Year in Jerusalem was a prayer that meant “Maybe someday a miracle will happen, and we’ll be able to enter Jaffa gate, and even to kiss the Kotel.”

Fifty-seven years ago today, despite the Akbar hopes and plans of millions, that miracle happened.

Fifty-Seven Years Ago Today: The Temple Mount! The Kotel!

Fifty-seven years ago today, General Motta Gur addressed the troops who survived the battle for Jerusalem—

“For some two thousand years the Temple Mount was forbidden to the Jews. Until you came—you, the paratroopers—and returned it to the bosom of the nation. The Western Wall, for which every heart beats, is ours once again. Many Jews have taken their lives into their hands throughout our long history, in order to reach Jerusalem and live here. Endless words of longing have expressed the deep yearning for Jerusalem that beats within the Jewish heart … The Kotel—the heartbeat of every Jew—the place to which every Jewish heart yearns, is once more in our hands. The great privilege of giving back to the nation its capital, its center of sanctity, has been given to you.”

And in the words of soldiers that day—

“Slowly, slowly I began to approach the Wall. I approached it as a messenger of my grandfather and great grandfather and of all the generations in all the exiles who had never merited seeing it—and so they had sent me to represent them. I put my hand on the stones and the tears that started to flow were not my tears. They were the tears of all Israel.” – Moshe Amirav, a paratrooper

“There was the Wall. I had never seen it before, but it was an old friend. I closed my eyes and brought my lips to the Wall. Tears burst forth. A Jewish soldier in the State of Israel is kissing history with his lips. Past, present and future all in one kiss. A soldier near me mumbled in disbelief, “We are at the Wall, at the Wall.”  – Abraham Duvdevani, a soldier

Fifty-Seven Years Ago Today: From Slonim to the Six-Day War

In 1953, the Slonimer Chassidim were planning to build a new yeshiva in Jerusalem. Rabbi Shalom Noach Berzovsky, then the Rosh Yeshiva, and later the Rebbe now known as the Nesivos Shalom, insisted that the yeshiva be built as close as possible to the Kotel. This meant being adjacent to the no man’s land that separated Jewish Jerusalem from the Jordanian controlled Old City.

Fourteen years later, as the Six-Day War was raging, Rabbi Berzovsky addressed his students—

“…My heart rejoices in God … We are obligated to recognize the miracles that Hashem has done for us in recent days: This is unlike anything anyone has merited to see for tens of generations. It is forbidden to be ungrateful for the double miracle God has done.

First, that evil one [Egyptian president Nasser], the Haman of our time, sought to destroy all the Jews and God did miracles, and [as with Purim] ‘And events were reversed and the Jews prevailed over their enemies.’ Even those far from faith—anyone with a brain in his head—recognizes that there was nothing natural about this victory.

The second miracle: This was the revelation of His love for the nation of Israel, though it is unworthy, for control of the remnant of the Beis Hamikdosh—the Western Wall—regarding which our sages taught that the Shechina has never budged from it.

Nineteen years ago, when the Old City fell to the Arabs … two thousand of us gathered in the Yeshiva of Meah Shearim. We sat on the floor and wept. I thought then that we had reached the pinnacle of Hashem’s hiddenness; for after the destruction of six million Jews … at least we had the Kotel… Now—Ashreinu ma’tov chelkeinu— ‘We are so happy, how good is our lot’ in this great moment, when Hashem has turned to shine His face in an open manner towards us, in a way that no other generation has ever experienced…”

The day after the liberation of the Kotel, the army escorted a small group of rabbis to the newly liberated Kotel. Rabbi Berzovsky was part of that group. Then, just one week later, the holiday of Shavuot dawned in Jerusalem. Tens of thousands flowed to the Kotel—

Fifty-Seven Years Ago Today: Shavuot at the Kotel.

“I (Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen) was extremely fortunate because I happened to chance upon the unforgettable Tzaddik of Jerusaelm, Reb Aryeh Levin. Reb Aryeh was one of the best-loved students of the great Chief Rabbi Kook. We walked together in silence. He began to speak in Yiddish, almost in a whisper; ‘my whole life I have not been able to understand the words, “When God accompanied the captivity of Zion on their return, we were like dreamers …” But now I understand! In a dream you can see something that lasted for many years, but you actually see it in an instant. Through a dream moment you comprehend a whole era, a whole history, a whole story. This is exactly what is happening now. Right now we can see everything. We can see the long years of exile, the Shoah, the Underground [where I visited you and others in Latrun Prison], the War of Liberation, and, most recently, the Six-Day War. This very second, while you and I are walking to the Kotel, everything is happening as if in a dream. Because this is it! The rebirth of Israel, the moment when Am Yisrael are once more in control of the City of Jerusalem. How fortunate are we to be reaching the beginning of redemption …’”     (Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, pp. 234-37)

Isaac Yehuda Hershkovitz recalled staying up all that Shavuot night, as is the tradition, studying the words of the Torah, and then—

“At last we set out for the Old City. The street was humming with people. From every side and corner a stream of people came pouring in. All roads and paths led to the Kotel, and spontaneously people burst into spirited singing and dancing. We saw soldiers amongst Chassidim, old mixed with young, Ashkenazim, and Sephardim. All barriers fell as though they had never been. On we marched utterly amazed and wondering: Were we really going to the Kotel? Was it only a week since we sat in shelters and prayed to be saved us from the killers who planned to exterminate us?

“The long twisting line of people has reached the Kotel at last. We stood there dumbfounded; all speech taken from us. Hot tears poured unashamedly from the worshipers’ eyes everywhere.” (Menachem M. Kasher, The Western Wall, pp. 61-66)

Four months after those awe-inspiring six days, ten more days of awe were on the horizon. In an Elul address to the Ponevezh yeshiva, the Mashgiach, Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein said that—

“It’s absolutely clear that this years’ preparations must be categorically different. In the face of the miracles we witnessed, the whole world stood breathless …our enemies intended to slaughter us all, this was a most powerful miracle.”

Fifty-Seven Years Later: Al-Quds! Allah Akbar!

Fifty-seven years after surviving the blood thirsty Allah Akbar desire of the surrounding Muslims to destroy Israel, Israel is home to 7.3 million Jews. Thousands upon thousands of Jews flow to Jerusalem every year to study in seminary, university, or yeshiva, while thousands and thousands more never think twice about traveling to celebrate Passover, or Simchat Torah, in the land of Israel. Fifty-seven years after the Allah Akbarians planned our destruction, young orthodox couples never think twice about spending their first year or two of marriage in Jerusalem. Some stay for the rest of their lives.

Fifty-seven years after surviving the blood thirsty Allah Akbar desire of the surrounding Muslims to drive all the Jews from the river to the sea into the sea, the Jihadi Muslim forces surrounding Israel are once again planning our destruction.

On October 7th, Hamas launched the opening attack in what they call the Al-Aksa Flood. While students on US campuses think they are supporting the call for a Palestinian state, what they are actually doing is supporting the blood thirsty, genocidal plans of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and other Jihad driven forces to annihilate Israel and rape, torture, and slaughter her 7.3 million Jews.

Today, fifty-seven years after the Six-Day war, Hamas and the rest of the Jihadi alliance openly and virulently condemn Egypt and Jordan for making peace with Israel. They warn the Palestinian Authority that if it even considers a peaceful two state solution with the Jews that it will automatically be rendered a traitor to Islam, to Jihad, and to Allah. Akbar!

Today, in the wake of the Allah Akbar onslaught of October 7th, it’s crystal clear that while the Jihadi’s are thrilled to see their cap-and-gown supporters flooding campuses in America, what they truly want to do is flood the streets of Ramat Eshkol, Geula, Baka, Har Nof, Rannana, Beit Shemesh, Modiin, Talpiot, and Tel Aviv with waves of Jihadi soldiers and missiles that will transform the streets of Israel into flowing river-to-the-sea torrents of Jewish blood.

When Israeli soldiers find pictures of the Al-aksa Mosque and the Temple Mount on the walls of every home in Gaza, when Hamas paints the word Al-Quds, Jerusalem, on their missiles, and when Gazans cheer Allah Akbar! as Jewish hostages are tied to cars and dragged through the streets of Gaza, it’s because for them this war is not about Palestinians achieving a Palestinian state, but about faithful Muslims literally erasing Jews and a Jewish state. The war launched by Hamas, and which Iran, the Houthis, and Hezbollah are just aching to join, is not about sharing Jerusalem, it’s about crushing anything Jewish, and every Jew, from the Kotel to the sea.

Fifty-Seven Years Later: Yom Yerusholayim. It’s Good to Give Thanks.

Fifty-seven years after surviving the blood thirsty Allah Akbar desire of the surrounding Muslims to destroy Israel, and yes, eight months after October 7th: Tov l’hodot l’Hashem

It’s good to give thanks to God.

Thanks that just fifty-seven years ago we survived a war of annihilation against far larger and better equipped armies.

Thanks that somehow, after 2,000 years, the Temple Mount, the Kotel, Jerusalem and so much more was restored to the bosom of the Children of Israel.

Thanks for every good, beautiful, and holy moment that any and every Jew has today in Jerusalem. Thanks for any step on the way to the Kotel that any of has ever taken. Thanks for any day of Torah learning any of us has ever had in Jerusalem. Thanks for every cappuccino sipped at any café in Jerusalem. Thanks for every breath any of has ever taken in the State of Israel, upon the holy soil of Israel. Thanks that we weren’t annihilated in 1967, thanks that we haven’t just survived, but thrived, and thanks for every remarkable opportunity that is waiting for us—our generation—to reach out and take hold of.

Fifty-seven years later: It’s good to give thanks.

The Six-Day War.

The Six-Day Miracle.

The Kotel.


Yom Yerusholayim.    טוב להודות לה׳


In honor of David Newman, David Yair Shalom.

A young man raised in the Jewish Quarter he so loved.

A young man who adored the Kotel at which he sang and prayed.

A young man who loved to sing and dance and cook and travel and enjoy the presence of friends and family; on Shabbat, at the Kotel, at the beach, in the mountains, or at a festival.

A young Golani slaughtered on October 7th while protecting Noam, his beloved fiancé, and others at Rayim.

About the Author
Shimon Apisdorf is the founder of Operation Home Again, the first organization solely devoted to community-based Aliyah. He has also authored ten books that have sold over a quarter million copies and have won two Benjamin Franklin awards. The Apisdorf's made Aliyah in the summer of 2012.
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