Celebrating Jerusalem every day
Author writes that the reunification of Jerusalem is a national miracle to be celebrated by Jews – and Christians alike
Yesterday, Israel and Jewish and Christian friends all over the world celebrated Jerusalem Day, 55 years on the biblical calendar – the 28th of Iyar – corresponding to the day on the secular calendar in June of 1967 when Jerusalem was miraculously reunified during the Six-Day War.
Indeed, the restoration of Jewish sovereignty to all of Jerusalem for the first time in 2,000 years is yet another fulfillment of the many promises God made to the Jewish people, and many prophecies that continue to play out before our eyes right here in the land.
For Jews and Christians, no place is more central or significant to our faith than Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the place that kings built, prophets prophesied, where the Temples stood, where Jesus preached and was crucified and much more. Jerusalem is mentioned several hundred times in the Bible. It’s the only place by name that God specifically tells us to pray for, and to be guardians on its walls.
Sadly, not everyone understands the significance of Jerusalem to us today. Some people deny the significance of Jerusalem to Jews and Christians, deny that there was ever a temple on the Temple Mount, and talk about Jerusalem being “defiled” by Jews and Christians, and even “Judaized.”
This narrative is not only unbiblical, but it undermines the very foundation of Judaism and Christianity. It is the mother of all replacement theology to erase actual biblical history and our deep roots in Jerusalem as Jews and Christians connected to the holy city.
This is all the more reason why we need to celebrate. Last year, Hamas and other terrorists used the occasion of Jerusalem Day to start an 11-day war, launching over 4,000 rockets at Israeli communities. As bad as that is and was, I prefer to look at the cup half full. Yes, we have our challenges, but there are far more blessings.
In fact, our cup runneth over.
While I am not a prophet, this year I felt a little bit like a prophet of doom, joking with friends that we should hold off plans until after the war starts. My daughter, with a 2-week-old baby, nervously told my son-in-law that if there is a war, he must tell the army he can’t go and be among the first 5,000 reservists called up as he did one year ago. Thankfully, no major war or conflict broke out and Jews were able to march and celebrate throughout the city.
Being a Jew in Jerusalem, I feel the blessings every day. From the balcony of my apartment, I can see the Golden Dome on the Temple Mount. I am overcome with joy and emotion that 17 years ago, my youngest son was born in Jerusalem. He is named after two relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust and, no doubt, prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem. I suspect that they could never have imagined how that has become a reality today – a thriving diverse city, the capital of the State of Israel.
As overjoyed as they would be seeing a young man carrying their name, born in Jerusalem, who is finishing high school and preparing to go serve the country as a member of the Israel Defense Forces, they would be speechless to know that I now also have three grandsons born in Jerusalem, representing another generation of Jewish life thriving in Jerusalem.
But don’t believe me. This month I had conversations with two dear Christian friends who live in Jerusalem and have been part of life here for decades. We discussed modern and biblical history, the blessings that they experience being here, and the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification and why we celebrate today.
Chris Mitchell is the veteran head of the CBN Jerusalem bureau for more than two decades. He’s reported on thousands of aspects of life here and is well known to Christians around the world. Mitchell a journalist of the highest of integrity, who speaks about being at the intersection of history and prophecy. Hear his invaluable insight here.
John Enarson works on a theological basis to help Christians understand the personal significance of Jerusalem. He had the privilege of living and raising a family in Jerusalem and speaks with unwavering moral clarity rooted in biblical tradition. Together, Chris and John offer extraordinary personal testimony and insight about living in Jerusalem and the significance of how and why the celebration of Jerusalem Day is so important.
Yesterday, I was watching a talk show broadcasting on location from Jerusalem with the Old City as the backdrop. The panel was discussing the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification in light of current events, including the annual “Flag March,” as well as the threats from Hamas, Hezbollah and others. The topic was particularly relevant given that last year on the eve of Jerusalem Day, Hamas used this as an excuse to launch rockets at Jerusalem (to “protect” Jerusalem!). I suppose that “protecting” Jerusalem means different things to different people.
One of the panelists talked passionately about the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification and our celebration. She spoke ardently, as a proud Israeli. Before my mind could ascribe any political association, she described herself growing up in a (left-wing) kibbutz environment and noted that even for her, celebrating Jerusalem – and not caving into Hamas threats – was a priority.
That’s when it hit me. The reunification of Jerusalem is, indeed, a national thing. It is not something to be taken for granted.
Years ago, I was moved to hear from a friend’s father, Moshe, how that very year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to Jerusalem to celebrate its reunification. For him, it was like a heart transplant, bringing a “new pulse” to the state and people of Israel, one for which we waited and prayed for nearly 2,000 years.
Today, too many do take Jerusalem’s reunification for granted. That’s wrong. Jerusalem is our heart. Its reunification is a fulfillment of a divine promise on which we could bank, and is now fulfilled. Even if it took two millennia.
Not everyone looks at the significance of Jerusalem’s restoration from the same perspective. Some look at it as just part of modern history, some as fulfillment of a divine promise, some as one of the greatest things to happen in the State of Israel, and some, a combination of all three. But remembering Moshe’s moving words, along with the passionate comments of the “left-wing” woman on TV, things clicked in a way that haven’t before.
That’s part of the beauty of living here. It’s not just academic. I live in my own petri dish. I am part of the experiment and can observe the outcome all at the same time.
Our joy and celebration should be unbridled. No exceptions. This year, thank God, it was, more or less. But we don’t have to wait once a year to celebrate Jerusalem. Like our heart, it’s part of who we are – central to Judaism and Christianity. Let’s celebrate Jerusalem every day.
Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has become a respected bridge between Jews and Christians and serves as president of the Genesis 123 Foundation. He writes regularly on major Christian websites about Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He is host of the popular Inspiration from Zion podcast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.