On the occasion of Yom Yerushalayim, I am pleased to extend warm greetings from Jerusalem.
Yesterday, I participated in a Knesset committee meeting where the discussion centered on the egalitarian prayers at the Kotel. In my opening my remarks, I recalled how the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of the Kotel was a turning point in bringing Soviet Jews back to our roots and helped us rediscover our identity. In many ways, our struggle for freedom was inspired by the tremendous pride felt by every Jew in 1967. The Israeli soldiers reunited not only the two parts of our holy city, but also the two parts of our people—those who were free and those who were not, the Jews of the free world and the Jews of silence. In smashing through the Lions’ Gate, they also punched a hole in the Iron Curtain, heralding a movement that ultimately bought freedom to us all.
The Kotel holds a unique place in the heart of the Jewish people and in the very core of our Jewish identity. Every Jew, wherever he or she may be, has a relationship with this sacred place. It is both a site of profound national significance and a setting for intimate conversation with God. We at The Jewish Agency are priviliged to be playing a central role in ensuring that the Kotel is a site to which every Jew may feel connected. According to tradition, the Second Temple was destroyed by sin’at hinam (baseless hatred). We look forward to helping bring about the Kotel’s restoration in the eyes of all Jews through ahavat hinam (causeless love).
In a couple of weeks, I will be traveling to Moscow to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim with the local Jewish community. The main event will take place in the plaza outside the Jewish Agency building, adjacent to the magnificent Moscow Chorale Synagogue. That is the place where our movement started, that is the place where the first meetings between Jewish activists and refusniks and Jews from around the world took place. That is the place where our struggle for freedom took off. Now, so many years later, I look forward to joining this community in celebrating this historic moment in the shadow of a simulated Kotel, celebrating the combination of freedom and identity that it symbolizes to them, to me, and to us all.
יום ירושלים שמח!
Happy Jerusalem Day!