Yom Ha’atzmaut fills me with unqualified joy. Yom Yerushalayim, celebrated tomorrow on Iyar 28, always makes me a little uneasy. To an extent, especially in Israel, it has become the festival of the religio-political “right”, those who accord supreme importance to Jewish sovereignty over the whole Land of Israel and oppose territorial compromise under any circumstances.
Yet each year, I overcome my unease and say Hallel on Yom Yerushalayim with a full heart.
I say it because 70 generations of Jews, most of them never seeing Jerusalem, even so never forgot it — not in their prayers, or at their weddings, or when in mourning. Our generation is privileged to see Jerusalem whenever it wants, to pray there, to celebrate weddings there, to live there.
I say Hallel because a refusenik in Moscow in the 1980s once said to me: “Today I am showing you Moscow; one day you will show me Jerusalem”, and the wish came true.
I say Hallel because my elder daughter was born with the Jerusalem sunrise, and because I am not sure for what to give greater thanks: the fact that she was born there, or the fact that it’s no big deal, since in our generation many Jewish children are born every day in Jerusalem.
I say Hallel because of the prophecy of Zechariah (8:4-5) which has been fulfilled in our day before our very eyes: “Old men and old women will once again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with stick in hand from great age, and the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play.”