This Way, Jerusalem


The first Yom Yerushalayim was a military victory.

On June 7, 1967 (Iyar 28 on the Hebrew calendar), a Wednesday, Israeli soldiers captured the Old City of Jerusalem, reuniting the capital that had been divided, under Jordanian control since the 1948 War of Independence.

Jerusalem Day was born, observed, by order of the country’s Chief Rabbinate, with prayers of thanks.

In subsequent years, Yom Yerushalyim became a national holiday, observed with singing and dancing, marches and lectures, TV documentaries and memorial ceremonies, rallies and counter-rallies, citywide security and a few arrests. And controversy. Haredim don’t recognize the day as a religious holiday; Arabs mourn their losses in the Six-Day War.

This year the holiday, the 45th anniversary of the date when victorious soldiers wept and prayed at the Western Wall and Rabbi Shlomo Goren sounded the shofar, was marked on Sunday.

At a meeting of the Cabinet on Ammunition Hill, site of a bloody battle in 1967, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Jerusalem’s united future.

“On this hill,” he said, “the united heart of our people began to beat again, with full power. Our heart will never be divided again.”

An estimated 25,000 people took part in a march from the prime minister’s residence, through two Old City gates, to the Western Wall. In a separate activity, settlers, above, biked from Hebron in the West Bank north to Jerusalem.

The Cabinet on Sunday approved a series of measures designed to strengthen Jerusalem, including residential developments in the city for soldiers and police, and nearly $1 million to develop tourist spaces in the next six years