A word from the WZO Vice Chairman
For thousands of years, in times of emotion and yearning, Jerusalem has always been in the hearts of the Jewish people. This holy city is present during the most meaningful moments of every Jew- in prayers, weddings , blessings and even during days of sorrow. It has been mentioned as the source of strength and courage of the People of Israel for generations and still is today. The Jewish people have been waiting for that moment in which their lips would touch the last remnant of the Temple and for them to return to their roots, for over two thousand years.
Today, fifty years after the reunification of the city, we look with pride towards Jerusalem’s open gates, to its freedom of religion and worship, and to the amazing combination between old and new. It is a lively metropolitan, a place of industry and commerce, of entertainment, of history, of pride and of unity.
I invite you to take part in the fifty year celebration of our capital and join us in Israel through the L’chaim Yerushalayim program of the World Zionist Organization.
Our goal is to bring to Israel many young adults from the Diaspora – leaders of the next generation – in order to feel, celebrate, rejoice and experience the reunification of Jerusalem.
Through this unique initiative participants will get the opportunity to create their own personal, first-hand Israeli experience. Israeli families from around the country will host the young adults from the Jewish communities around the world throughout their stay during Jerusalem week. Being hosted by Israeli families will allow participants to get an authentic feeling of life in Israel. They will get to experience the great atmosphere, the food, aromas, celebrations and the joy. Getting the chance to take part in events in honor of Yom Yerushalayim will add to the participants sense of belonging and will be an extra unique experience for them.
I call upon you, heads of organizations, to pass on the information regarding L’chaim Yerushalayim to your representatives and to communities around the world; to encourage activists and friends to arrive in Israel for one big Israeli celebration.
All tickets purchased through EL AL will be entitled to a 10% discount from all locations. Any organization, representative or emissary that will bring 50 participants with EL AL from the same place will be entitled to a free ticket.
The WZO commends participants of L’chaim Yerushalayim.
This year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!
Vice Chairman, World Zionist Organization
About the World Zionist Organization
The World Zionist Organization was founded at the initiative of Theodore Herzl at the First Zionist Congress, which took place in August 1897 in Basel, Switzerland.
The Zionist Organization was established as an umbrella organization, for all Zionist movements whose desire was to establish a homeland for the people of Israel in the Land of Israel.
After the establishment of the state, the WZO had to adapt to the reality of a sovereign state.
The principles of Zionism, as received in the Jerusalem Program at the Twenty-Seventh Zionist Congress, are:
- The unity of the Jewish people and the centrality of the State of Israel in their lives.
- The gathering of the Jewish people in their homeland, the Land of Israel, through Aliyah from all countries.
- The strengthening of the State of Israel, rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.
- Ensuring the distinctiveness of the Jewish people by furthering Jewish and Hebrew education, and by fostering Jewish spiritual and cultural values.
- Protection of the rights of Jews wherever they live.
The WZO operates today in light of these objectives.
The highest institution, which outlines the policy of the Zionist Organization and its authority, is the Zionist Congress which meets every five years.
This congress is a continuation of the famous congress that Theodore Herzl assembled in Basel 120 years ago with the vision to reward the young participants from all of world Jewry.
To read more you can visit the World Zionist Organization’s website.
About Yom Yerushalayim
“If I forget Jerusalem”. These words are the opening of a verse in the 137th chapter of Psalms: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to my palate, if I do not remember you. If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. (Psalms Chapter 137, verse 5-6). According to Jewish tradition, the groom says these two verses during the wedding ceremony, before he breaks a glass under the canopy – as a remembrance of the destruction of the two temples and Jerusalem.
From the time of the War of Independence (1948) and for 19 years after, Jerusalem was a divided city. The western part of the city was under the control of Israel, while the eastern side, including the Old City of Jerusalem, was under the rule of Jordan (except for Mount Scopus). On the 28th day of the Jewish month of Iyar 5727 (1967), which was the third day of the Six-Day War, IDF soldiers reunited Jerusalem.
Three weeks after the Six-Day War, the Knesset decided on the unification of Jerusalem; it established Israeli law in all parts of the city and declared freedom of religion and worship at all holy places for all – Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Towards the anniversary of the Six-Day War, on the 14th day of Iyar 5728 (1968), the Knesset declared the 28th of Iyar as Jerusalem Day (“Yom Yerusahlayim”) – a day to mark the reunification of the city and the special historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem for so many generations.
Jerusalem Day received legal recognition in the year 5758 (1998), through the “Jerusalem Day Law” which set the 28th of Iyar as a national holiday.
Jerusalem Day turned into a holiday of the capital of Israel. On the eve of Jerusalem Day and during the day itself there are special ceremonies and events. Among these events are the official memorial ceremonies for fallen soldiers at Mount Herzl and Ammunition Hill – where one of the fiercest battles of the Paratroopers Brigade took place and an official ceremony in memory of Ethiopian Jews who perished on their journey to Israel. Ceremonies and festivals are held throughout the city – at parks, museums, sites where battles took place and schools. In the streets of Jerusalem there is a special parade, which starts at Gan Sacher, at the foot of the Knesset, with what is known as Rikud Degalim (The Flag Dance), and ends at the Western Wall. In synagogues across the country festive prayers are said, which includes chapters of praise and gratitude alongside prayers for the welfare of the country. The media, especially television and radio, broadcast special programs in honour of this day.