This website is one of the several media outlets that form 70 Faces Media, “the largest nonprofit, nondenominational Jewish media organization in North America,” which is funded by a range of familiar Jewish philanthropic names — among others, the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation and the UJA-Federation of New York.
According to the “About Us” page, myjewishlearning.com “is all about empowering Jewish discovery for anyone interested in learning more, [offering] thousands of articles, videos and other resources to help you navigate all aspects of Judaism and Jewish life.”
This website is certainly one of the internet’s most prominent storefronts for Judaism and the Jewish world, which makes the assertions in its article on Yom Yerushalayim startling beyond belief:
“Unlike Yom Ha’atzmaut — which is a day to celebrate the existence and successes of the modern Jewish state [of Israel] — Yom Yerushalayim can make some politically liberal Jews outside of Israel uncomfortable, due to the continuing conflicts over the future of the city. Even some Jews who believe that the city should remain undivided and under Israel’s control choose not to emphasize Yom Yerushalayim as a day of joy because of the deeply emotional, violent, and controversial state of affairs surrounding the Arab portions of Jerusalem.”
Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Day, is the annual anniversary for the reunification of Jerusalem, when Jews across the world celebrate the liberation of east Jerusalem on June 7, 1967, and particularly the Old City and Temple Mount, from the control of the Jordanians, who had captured the eastern part of the city during Israel’s War of Independence, expelled all the Jews from their homes, and removed the permanent Jewish presence that had persisted there across the centuries.
On that heady day in June 1967, for the first time since the Roman era, Jews were finally in possession and control of their capital city Jerusalem, the beating heart of Jewish life since the days of King David some 3,000 years ago.
Why a website that professes to promote Jewish learning and Judaism would choose to focus on Jews whose disconnect with their Jewish heritage is so profound, that they fail to see the miraculous Jewish hegemony over Jerusalem as the fulfilment of countless prophecies, is beyond puzzling.
And if the answer is that the website must offer a balanced view, the mere fact that the insidious opinions of anti-Semites and fringe radicals has progressed so far into the mainstream that they need to be cited in the cause of balance is extremely worrying.
I studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem in the late 1980s. At the time, it was just over 20 years since reunification, and the city was a bustling metropolis, with lush public parks and modern suburbs situated alongside updated and upgraded older neighborhoods.
The Old City — which had languished terribly under Jordanian rule — was accessible and fresh, with access to the holy sites available to Jew and Gentile. Already then, tens of thousands of visitors came from all over the world each year, able to stay in world-class hotels and take advantage of this ageless jewel, a city that was as invigorating as it was safe.
What a sea change from the Jerusalem of history, so aptly described by one 19th-century visitor, Frederick Henniker, in an 1823 published account of his visit there:
“The streets of [Jerusalem] are narrow and deserted, the houses dirty and ragged, the shops few and forsaken; and throughout the whole [city] there is not one symptom of either commerce, comfort, or happiness.”
Today, 30 years since my time in yeshiva, Jerusalem has further exceeded itself — it is a thriving city with every modern amenity, and a public transport system that outclasses many in the Western world.
Moreover, Judaism and Jewish life, including a vast range of Torah institutions and countless synagogues to cater to Jews of every shade and stripe, have at no point flourished over our long history as they do in Jerusalem today.
What further proof do we need of the advent of Messianic times than the rebuilding of the ruins of Jerusalem into this gleaming beacon of Jewish life? Right before our very eyes, we can see the realization of biblical prophecy.
In 1718, Italian Jewish traveler Rabbi Immanuel Chai Ricci visited Safed in northern Israel, and decided to settle there while he studied kabbalah. In 1731 he published “Hon Ashir,” an eclectic work containing both a commentary on the Mishnah and a poem set to music.
Ricci also used the book to describe his time in Safed, noting the fulfillment of the prophecy in Bechukotai, as iterated in the Talmud (Sotah 49b) regarding the Messianic era, “and the Galilee shall be in a state of destruction” (Leviticus 26:33): “Your land shall become a desolation and your cities a ruin.”
In Ricci’s words, “I saw with my own eyes how the Galilee lay in ruins — but thank God I was also happy to see … that new houses were being built every day, and in my opinion, this [reconstruction] is truly a sign that the Messiah is on his way.”
Never mind Galilee — imagine if Ricci visited Jerusalem as it is today, to see the ruins of this ancient holy city overshadowed by countless burgeoning neighborhoods full of life and vigor, teeming with proud Jews who have returned to their ancestral homeland.
Yom Yerushalayim is not just an anniversary celebration; it is a day that reflects the anticipation of a nation over thousands of years for the ultimate redemption.
And if there are people out there who find this primary Jewish directive slightly awkward in the face of unresolved political issues, perhaps they need to reflect on their true commitment to Jewish identity.
Meanwhile, it is certainly the case that such people have no place in an article on Yom Yerushalayim.
Rabbi Pini Dunner is the senior rabbi at Beverly Hills Synagogue, a member of the Young Israel family of synagogues.
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.