Tomorrow night and through Wednesday evening, we celebrate Yom
Yerushalayim, the day dedicated to the Capital of the modern State of
Israel - the spiritual capital of the Jewish people.
Those who create media news, all too often biased and based on
misinformation and bad reporting, always seem to call Jerusalem a
"center of conflict", between Israelis and Palestinians, between Jews
and Muslims, between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews, and more. But we
who know Jerusalem, we who experience its richness, and we who honor,
value and love her... we know that Jerusalem is so far
beyond her daily problems and challenges. Jerusalem is our past and our
present, at once glorious and extraordinary.
The past and the legacy of Jerusalem:
Jerusalem appears 669 times in the Hebrew Bible. In the Torah it is not
mentioned by name except as "the place that God will choose."*
In Rabbinic literature there are thousands of references to Jerusalem,
- "Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes."**
- " 'Of all the tribes': this refers to Jerusalem and all [the people
of] Israel, who are partners in her"*** [Jerusalem is the property of
the entire Jewish people without exception].
- "The Land of Israel is in the center of the world and Jerusalem is in
the center of the Land of Israel."****
- And a messianic vision: "In the future all nations and kingdoms
will meet in Jerusalem."*****
Jerusalem is inspiration and demand; heaven and earth; center and
closure; hope and redemption.
Jerusalem, in the multiplicity of its meanings, in the variety of its
aspects, in the grandeur of its color - the Jerusalem stone covering all
the facades of the buildings in the city - is today a true Capital of
the modern State of Israel. We have seen it grow over the years in
countless ways; the most important and outstanding instances:
- The renaissance of its historic and traditional neighborhoods.
- Transformation of the Yafo Road into a thoroughfare traversed by a
new rail transit system.
- Construction of the Bridge of Strings - Gesher HaMeitarim****** -
at the entrance to the city, modern emblem of a changing city.
- Establishment of new pedestrian streets.
- Beautification of Independence Park - Gan Ha'atzmaut - one of
the city's "green lungs".
- The opening of new hotels.
- And, of course, expansion of Teddy Stadium from 23,000 to 31,000 seats
and renewal of the whole city sports infrastructure for the Maccabiah.
Jerusalem's future and its projects - to be opened soon:
Jerusalem plans its growth with a great deal of care and respect for her
enormous spiritual, religious and historical legacy. In order for her
future to reflect something of her past glory, new construction projects
* Commercial and Financial Park at the city's entrance.
* Oceanographic Park - the largest in Israel, with glass tunnels to walk
among the diverse sea life.
* A huge movie theater complex - "Cinema City" - opening soon.
* Bike Park, scheduled to open before the Maccabiah.
* "Deer Valley" - "Emek HaTzva'im" - 70 acres, the largest in the
* Shruber Cultural Center - an architectural masterpiece with 12 halls.
New routes are in construction to easily arrive to Jerusalem:
* Fast train - will cover the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem route in 28 minutes.
* New road entrance to the city - which will dramatically reduce traffic
jams at the entrance to Israel's capital.
This is the way we live today in Jerusalem: in a dialogue between
tradition - which places Jerusalem at the center of the heart, the
liturgy, the mysticism of 3 millennia of Jewish feeling... and its
present and future, seeking its relevance and the permanence of its
message in an ever growing, ever evolving State of Israel.
Jerusalem is the supreme symbol of our millennial yearning to return to
Zion and our eternal Capital. On this Yom Yerusahalayim, we
celebrate the joy of being able to reconnect with ourselves as Jews,
walking its narrow alleys to rejoice in the majesty of the Temple Mount,
discovering the excitement of being part of a chain that links us with
all our past and future generations of Jews who, through us, have
returned to Jerusalem, the city we never forsook and left behind, the
City that was and is the center of our prayers.
deep gratitude to our soldiers, the liberators of Jerusalem,
for giving us the opportunity to be one
the City of Light, of Peace, of Unity,
Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!
RABBI CARLOS A. TAPIERO
Deputy Director-General & Director of Education
Maccabi World Union
* For instance, in Deuteronomy XVI, 15.
** Talmudic Tractate Yoma 12a.
*** Avot DeRabbi Natan 35.
****Tanchuma Kedoshim 10.
*****Avot DeRabbi Natan 35.
******Designed by the famous Spanish architect and
engineer Santiago Calatrava.