OP-ED: Yom Yerushalayim and Mother’s Day
The very first Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) was declared in Israel on the 12th of May, 1968. That was the date that coincided with the 28th of Iyar, the one-year anniversary when Israeli troops liberated East Jerusalem and reunited the city for the first time since 1948.
It was also an important cultural date in the United States and elsewhere around the world. It was Mother’s Day.
A divided Jerusalem had not been the case for long.
The day after Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was attacked by its Arab neighbors including Jordan, which captured half of the Old City. Israeli forces were unable to remove the entrenched forces there and so, when the ceasefire was achieved, an uneasy peace existed between the Arabs and the nascent State of Israel.
The Arabs controlled East Jerusalem. Israel controlled the other half of the city.
That truce existed for 19 years and was respected as the status quo by Israel until 1967. Prior to the outbreak of the Six Day War, Israel had warned Jordan’s King Hussein not to enter into the hostilities. However, Jordan was pressured by Egypt to ignore the warning and started shelling Israel’s civilian areas at the onset of the war. The response by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was immediate and decisive.
Israeli troops captured East Jerusalem the next day.
As was the case in 1967, today marks a historic conjunction. Mother’s Day, a national holiday in the U.S., is best observed within a family setting. Yom Yerushalayim, a national holiday in Israel, is best observed in an outdoor setting with others.
The ongoing pandemic has made observance of both problematic. But with vaccination rates moving up and the rates of infection subsiding in both countries, there are plenty of reasons for us to celebrate both holidays here and afar.
May your celebrations be meaningful as you celebrate family members and, as members of the larger Jewish family, may you also “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”