JERUSALEM (Apr. 7)
The “year of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem” was formally inaugurated here today with a stately procession up the slope of Mt. Zion led by religious and political leaders of the State of Israel and representatives of the Jewish communities of the world.
The procession began from the central railroad station in this city, where special trains had brought hundreds of pilgrims from all parts of the Jewish State. The first rank of dignitaries included leading rabbis, members of the Cabinet and Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Ziorist Organization. They were preceded by a guard of honor composed of representatives of youth organizations.
As the procession began winding its way up the height, 12 ancient shofars were sounded and then the Psalms were read over loudspeakers. At the temple atop the mount, Jerusalem Mayor Gershon Agron formally received the procession to the city.
A “Pilgrimage Book,” previously signed by President Ben Zvl was brought out for signature by the dignitaries and twelve tourists representing the communities outside Israel, Dr. Goldmann read aloud a pilgrimage scroll and then, as a representative of Jews living abroad, pledged support to the State of Israel.
Rabbi S. Z. Cahane, director general of the Ministry for Religion, who presided, closed the ceremony with a prayer for the welfare of the state, its defenders and its Minister-advisers. Then the flag of Israel was unfurled, the assemblage sang “Hatikvah” and thousands of Israelis and visitors from abroad filed past to sign the Pilgrimage Book.
A flag rescued from the carnage of the Warsaw Ghetto has been flying a top Mt. Zion since last Friday to mark the 15th anniversary of the uprising in the Polish capital on the eve of Passover 1943.
The Pilgrimage Year will continue until May 1959. Ever since the days of the Bible there have been three occasions during the year in which Jews have “gone up” to Jerusalem’s Mt. Zion: the festivals of Passover, Shevuoth, and Succoth. Mt. Zion is the closest point to the site of the Temple, which was the original goal of the pilgrims. This is where the upper town of Jerusalem, including the fortress of King David, was situated. The upper town held out against the Romans one month after the destruction of the Temple.