Israel rejoices as it celebrates Jerusalem Day, which marks Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967 after being occupied by Jordan for 19 years.
During Israel’s war for independence, thousands of Jewish settlers, who had ancestral ties to the land, were forced to flee during the fighting. Heavy artillery shelling destroyed a total of 48 synagogues, leaving only one intact. The Jordanians desecrated old gravestones and even converted sacred burial sites into latrines.
2012 marks the 45th anniversary of the reunification. Most synagogues were filled to capacity as thousands gathered for morning services. The Hallel prayer was recited and a memorial held for Israel Defense soldiers who gave their lives in battle.
A special session was held at Ammunition Hill, which historical textbooks cite as the focal point for the Six Day’s War. During the fierce back and forth battle, 36 paratroopers lost their lives. At this session, the government will also vote over how to transform Jerusalem into a spot that betters its economy and boost tourism.
High school students and youth groups will also be partaking in Jerusalem Day Rikudglaim, where a parade of dancers and marchers will occupy the Old City and proudly wave the Israeli flag.
Celebrations will also be held in the Zionist yeshiva, Merkaz Harav Kook, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior rabbis will be present to observe the festivities. A team of dancers comprising of Merkaz Harav students will dance their way starting from the yeshiva and move over to the Western Wall. The event will be broadcasted and streamed live by various media outlets.
In 1967, after being denied access by the Jordanians, Israelis marched by the thousands and stepped foot into Jerusalem for the first time in 19 years. This event marked a significant chapter in Israel’s history and is now celebrated with an unshakable pride and patriotism.