Updated: May 30, 2021
Let's get our blue and white party hats on because today we're celebrating Jerusalem Day!
It’s the 54th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem!
We know, the ancient city of Jerusalem has been around for thousands of years, so why are we only celebrating the 54th anniversary you ask?
Well, you're right. Jerusalem may have been around for a while, but Israeli control of the city has not. Today we celebrate the reunification of the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordanian forces back in 1967.
You see, Jerusalem was divided since the end of the War of Independence, with the Old City and East Jerusalem under Jordanian control.
Those areas have a lot of significant sites dear to Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike.
Visiting places like the Dome of the Rock, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were restricted or forbidden during that time. That means no bar-mitzvot at the Kotel, no Birkat Kohanim, no bagels in the Old-City, and none of the other events and pastimes we have become so used to at those holy sites (whenever there isn't a dangerous pandemic going on of course). So when Jerusalem was recaptured and reunified on June 7th, 1967, Israel had to celebrate!
“All Eyes on Jerusalem”
With the reunification of Jerusalem, the Israeli government set up a national holiday to celebrate called Jerusalem Day. Just think of this day as Jerusalem's birthday. For one day every year, Jerusalem is the center of attention and all eyes are on the city. The entire city and Israelis from all over the country join together in celebration.
The Jerusalem Event of the Year
The biggest event every year is the Jerusalem Day Flag Parade that lasts most of the day. The parade procession passes through the downtown area of Jerusalem on the way to the Western Wall for a festive ceremony.
People start to gather at 4:30 PM at Bezalel Street and Independence Park and at 6:00 PM, the procession towards the Old City begins. The parade ends at the Western Wall but the dancing begins at 8:00 PM.
Last night the annual flag parade was transformed into a large convoy of cars and music trucks, that made its way to the Kotel, blasting music and songs and followed by a human chain, all keeping a safe distance from one another, of course.
Many people decided to celebrate in the privacy of their homes, so as not to crowd and endanger each other. Beginning last night, people have been barbecuing, singing, and dancing on balconies all over Jerusalem and Israel.
So you see, even though the world has been going through massive changes these past few months, we Israelis that are accustomed to changes, manage to overcome these hurdles, and celebrate in special ways that only we can.