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Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day

05/22/2019 08:05:48 PM


Andrew Blumberg

At sundown on June 2nd we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, the anniversary of the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. For the first time in two thousand years the entire city of Jerusalem came under Jewish sovereignty. The destruction of Jerusalem began thousands of years of exile and destruction for the Jewish people, and thousands of years of mourning and longing as we're reminded when we conclude our Seders with the words “L'shana haba’ah b'Yerushalayim, Next year in Jerusalem.” (

During Jordanian occupation after the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel in 1948 until 1967, Jews were refused entry to the Old City and Jewish monuments were systematically destroyed. In 1967, Egypt provoked another pan-Arab war against Israel (the Six-Day War) by ordering UN peacekeepers out of the Sinai Peninsula and blockading the Straits of Tiran. When Israeli soldiers recaptured Old Jerusalem a few days later, they discovered that the Jordanians had not only dynamited synagogues but they had also used Jewish tombstones to pave roads and built latrines. You can listen to the historic and dramatic sounds of Israeli Defense Forces entering the Old City of Jerusalem and reclaiming the Western Wall on June 7, 1967, including the sounding the shofar, soldiers praying, including the shehechianu, the singing of Hatikvah, and crying. A transcript is also available. Visit

However, soon after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, it unilaterally turned over control of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Authority of Jerusalem — the Waqf. Today Jewish prayer is still forbidden on the Temple Mount and the battle in Israeli courts to allow Jews the freedom to pray on the Mount continues.

In 1996 the Waqf changed the accepted status quo that was kept for generations. Without oversight of archeologists or assessment of damage to the Temple Mount and its history, the Waqf converted two ancient underground Second Temple Period structures into a new large mosque. The two structures, known as Solomon’s stables and the Eastern Hulda Gate passageway, were never mosques before. The new mosque extends over an area of 1.5 acres and is the largest mosque in Israel. It is able to accommodate 10,000 people. Thousands of square-meters of the ancient Temple Mount were dug up by tractors. In November 1999, the Waqf opened what it called an “emergency exit.” The exit expanded into a gaping hole, 18,000 square feet in size, and up to 36 feet deep. Thousands of tons of the ancient fill from the site were dumped into the Kidron Valley. It was subsequently found by Israeli archeologists to contain artifacts dating to as early as the First Temple Period.

What has been found in the crushed rubble discarded by the Waqf? Archaeologists at the Temple Mount Sifting Project have made some very exciting finds, including clay stamps bearing the names, mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah, of two ministers in the court of King Zedekiah, the last king in Jerusalem before the destruction of the First Temple. Visitors to the Sifting Project get to search for ancient artifacts in Temple Mount debris. Click here to learn more about the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

Mon, August 8 2022 11 Av 5782