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Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day
Jerusalem Day 2007, Jaffa Road
Official name Hebrew: יום ירושלים‎ (Yom Yerushalayim)
Observed by State of Israel
Significance The reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli control after the Six-Day War. The first time Jews control Jerusalem since the Destruction of the Second Holy Temple by the Romans in 70 AD.
Begins Iyar 28 (Hebrew calendar)
2015 date May 17
Frequency annual

Jerusalem Day (Hebrew: יום ירושלים‎, Yom Yerushalayim) is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in the aftermath of the June 1967 Six-Day War. The day is officially marked by state ceremonies and memorial services. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to mark the regaining of access to the Western Wall.[1] While the day has lost its significance for most secular Israelis,[2][3][4] the day is still very much celebrated by Israel's Religious Zionist community[5][6] with parades and additional prayers in the synagogue.


  • History 1
  • Religious observance 2
  • 40th anniversary celebrations 3
  • Violence 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Jerusalem Day 2004 at the Western Wall.

Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which proposed the establishment of two states in the British Mandate of Palestine – a Jewish state and an Arab state – Jerusalem was to be an international city, neither exclusively Arab nor Jewish for a period of ten years, at which point a referendum would be held by Jerusalem residents to determine which country to join. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan, including the internationalization of Jerusalem, but the Arabs rejected the proposal.[7]

As soon as Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was attacked by its Arab neighbours. Jordan took over east Jerusalem and the Old City. Israeli forces made a concerted attempt to dislodge them, but were unable to do so. By the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War Jerusalem was left divided between Israel and Jordan. The Old City and East Jerusalem continued to be occupied by Jordan, and the Jewish residents were forced out. Under Jordanian rule, half of the Old City's fifty-eight synagogues were demolished and the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was plundered for its tombstones, which were used as paving stones and building materials.[8]

This state of affairs changed in 1967 as a result of the Six-Day War. Before the start of the war, Israel sent a message to King Hussein of Jordan saying that Israel would not attack Jerusalem or the West Bank as long as the Jordanian front remained quiet. Urged by Egyptian pressure and based on deceptive intelligence reports, Jordan began shelling civilian locations in Israel[9] to which Israel responded on June 6 by opening the eastern front. The following day, June 7, 1967 (28 Iyar 5727), Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem.

Later that day, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared what is often quoted during Yom Yerushalayim:[10][11]

This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples' holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.[12]
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin in the entrance to the old city of Jerusalem during the Six Day War, with Moshe Dayan and Uzi Narkiss.

The war ended with a ceasefire on June 11, 1967.

On May 12, 1968, the government proclaimed a new holiday – Jerusalem Day – to be celebrated on the 28th of Iyar, the Hebrew date on which the divided city of Jerusalem became one. On March 23, 1998, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Day Law, making the day a national holiday.

One of the themes of Jerusalem Day, based on a verse from the Book of Psalms, is "Ke'ir shechubra lah yachdav"—"Built-up Jerusalem is like a city that was joined together" (Psalm 122:3).[13]

In 1977, the government advanced the date of Jerusalem Day by a week to avoid it clashing with Election Day.[14]

Religious observance

Religious Zionists recite special holiday prayers with Hallel.[15] Although Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was reluctant to authorise its inclusion in the liturgy,[16] other scholars, namely Meshulam Roth and others who held positions in the Israeli rabbinate, advocated the reciting of Hallel with its blessings, regarding it as a duty to do so. Today, various communities follow differing practices.[17]

Some Haredim (strictly Orthodox), who do not recognise the religious significance of the State of Israel, do not observe Yom Yerushalayim.[18][19] Rabbi Moses Feinstein maintained that adding holidays to the Jewish calendar was itself problematic.[20]

40th anniversary celebrations

Logo of 40th anniversary celebrations, Jaffa Gate.

The slogan for Jerusalem Day 2007, celebrated on May 16,[21] marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, was "Mashehu Meyuhad leKol Ehad" (Hebrew: משהו מיוחד לכל אחד‎, Something Special for Everyone), punning on the words "meyuhad" (special) and "me'uhad" (united). To mark the anniversary, the approach to Jerusalem on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway was illuminated with decorative blue lighting which remained in place throughout the year.


For several years the celebration has been marked by violence, particularly during a part of the celebration called the "March of Flags". Leanne Gale of the Jewish Daily Forward describes the march: "The March of Flags has become an annual tradition in which thousands of ultranationalist Jewish celebrants parade through the city waving Israeli flags. It culminates in a dramatic march through the Muslim Quarter, generally accompanied by racist slogans and incitement to violence. Israeli police arrive in the area earlier in the day, sealing off entry to Palestinian residents "for their own safety". Those Palestinians who live in the Muslim Quarter are encouraged to close their shops and stay indoors, while any Palestinian counter-protest is quickly dispersed."[22] In 2011 24 people were arrested as Israelis marched through the heart of Arab East Jerusalem chanting racist slogans. Five Palestinians were arrested in 2012 for throwing objects, and ten Israelis were arrested for chanting racist slogans. [23]In 2013, 23 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were arrested for disturbances. In 2014, Israelis carrying flags were involved in skirmishes with Palestinians.. 5 Palestinians were arrested for throwing objects, while 10 Israelis were arrested for chanting racist slogans. The previous year 24 people were arrested as Israelis marched through the heart of Arab East Jerusalem chanting racist slogans.In 2014, Israelis carrying flags were involved in skirmishes with Palestinians. In 2013, 23 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were arrested for disturbances. Some participants have "spit at, harassed and chanted anti-Arab slogans", which has resulted in people in the Muslim Quarter closing their business and staying indoors. In an effort to prevent racism, and the same violence and disturbances from taking place in 2015, Jerusalem-based nonprofits Ir Amim and the Secular Yeshiva asked Mayor Nir Barkat and the Jerusalem Police to prevent the flag march from parading through the Muslim Quarter.[24] Rabbis and civic leaders in the religious Zionist movement are contemplating a call to Jews to refrain from verbal or physical attacks against Arabs during “flag march” through the city. Dozens of rabbis have signed a letter deploring the “serious fringe phenomenon of violence during the Jerusalem Day March.”[25]

In May 2015, The High Court of Justice rejected a petition to keep the Jerusalem Day parade from marching through the Muslim sector of the city. The justices said, however, that police must arrest parade participants who shout racist and violent epithets such as "Death to the Arabs!" or commit violent acts. Because the sometimes violent parade of Jewish marchers goes through the Arab quarters, residents and businesses are advised to close shop and stay home, thus disrupting their lives and livelihood. Haaretz noted: "In recent years, the parade has been characterized by numerous acts of racism and violence against Arabs, as well as damage to property at the hands of marchers."[26] In rejecting the petition to keep the parade from the Muslim sector, the judges voiced their "displeasure" that while violent marchers were arrested and held for questioning in 2014, no indictments were served. In May 2015 the day also resulted in violence the police were unable to contain.[27]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ The Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA)
  8. ^ A New Ruin Rising –"
  9. ^ Alan M. Dershowitz, The case for Israel, p.93/
  10. ^ Prime Minister speech
  11. ^ Knesset speeches
  12. ^ 40th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16 May 2007
  13. ^ My Jewish Learning: Yom Yerushalayim
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Should one recite Hallel on Jerusalem Day?, Shlomo Brody, Jerusalem Post, 17 May, 2012.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) in Israel[1]
  22. ^ ‘Go to Hell, Leftist’ and Other Jerusalem Day Slogans The jewish Daily Forward, 29 May 2014
  23. ^ "Arrests Made at Jerusalem Day Flag March" The jerusalem Fund, 21 May 2012
  24. ^ Before Jerusalem Day march, opponents aim to thwart racism The Times of Israel, 28 April 2015
  25. ^ Rabbis come out against Jerusalem Day violence Haaretz, 28 April 2015
  26. ^ High Court allows Jerusalem Day parade to march through Muslim Quarter Haaretz, 11 May 2015
  27. ^ In ‘reunified’ Jerusalem, Jewish-Arab rift as deep as ever the Times of Israel, 17 May 2015.

External links

  • Education week 9-13.5 – 43rd Jerusalem Day
  • Jerusalem Day on the official Knesset website
  • Hebrew broadcast of the conquering of the Old City, from Voice of Israel Radio, June 7, 1967
  • websiteMy Jewish Learning in Overview: Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)
  • "Jerusalem in International Diplomacy" from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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