Centrality of Unified Jerusalem Marked by World Jewish Leaders

Representatives of world Jewry signified their identification with Jerusalem this week by signing a symbolic covenant in a ceremony at the home of President Ezer Weizman.

The signing ceremony — conducted in Hebrew, English and French — took place Wednesday on Jerusalem Day, the 26th anniversary of the city’s reunification.

The event was part of a three-day international conference on Jerusalem intended to demonstrate world Jewish solidarity with a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Jewish people.

The conference drew more than a thousand Jewish leaders from some 70 countries. Seven hundred came from the United States alone, and U.S. Jewish leaders figured prominently in the conference programs.

Several said they felt the conference sent a clear and unified message to the world that Jerusalem’s status is not negotiable. And they said the message comes at a pivotal time in light of concessions Israel will be called on to make in the current peace talks.

At the ceremony at the president’s residence, Weizman said the signing of the covenant by leaders of world Jewry reaffirmed the link between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel.

But he also said that “the future of Jewry is in Israel. This is the only place.”

‘THIS BRINGS THE MESSAGE HOME’

Shoshana Cardin, former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, addressed the gathering, saying Diaspora Jews had come to “reaffirm the pledge” that “Jerusalem is the eternal united capital of Medinat Yisrael and the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”

But urging that actions match words, she called upon Jewish leaders to go back to their respective countries and push for diplomatic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s political capital.

Lester Pollack, current chairman of the Conference of Presidents, signed the covenant during the ceremony on behalf of North American Jewry.

After the ceremony, he said the event “manifests the clear, unequivocal view of world Jewry that Jerusalem is central — spiritually and politically.”

“Lots of things are relegated to the Israelis to decide,” he said, “but the status of Jerusalem is for world Jewry to decide. This brings the message home.”

The conference ended Wednesday evening with an outdoor ceremony on Ammunition Hill, the site of one of the critical battles of the Six Day War. There, under a starry night illuminated in part by torchlight, copies of the Jerusalem covenant signed by Jewish communities around the world were presented to Weizman.

The signed covenants will form a “Book of Communities,” to be housed at the Western Wall.

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