When I was in elementary school in New York, my favorite holiday was Yom Yerushalayim. We wore blue and white, ate falafel and ice cream, sang and danced and did fun projects about the different gates of the city.
When I moved to Israel, I was surprised to see that Yom Yerushalayim was not celebrated on the same level as Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) as schools and workplaces are not closed and may people want to disassociate with the holiday altogether.
Everyone in Israel seems to have a different take on Yom Yerushalayim. What makes Yom Yerushalayim so controversial?
On this date, 28 Iyar 5727 (1967), the city of Jerusalem was reunited. There are a lot of controversies over whether Jerusalem is really united. There are even those who advocate for Jerusalem to once again be divided.
There are those who come to celebrate the holiday with singing and dancing, there are those who come to protest and there are those who don’t visit at all.
There are those who march in the Old City of Jerusalem and those who only march in the New City.
There are those who recite Hallel (prayers of thanksgiving) and those who recite Tachnun (a prayer that is usually skipped on holidays).There are those who recite a special “Al HaNisim”, “For all of the miracles” prayer in the Shmoneh Esrei and Birkat HaMazon and there are those who don’t.
There are those who make an effort to get to know the “other” and there are those who keep to themselves.
There are those who pray at the Tayelet, with a view overlooking the Old City, there are those who pray at the Kotel and those who go up to the Temple Mount.
There are those who believe that the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem and those who are not happy about the move.
No matter what our viewpoints or how we celebrate, at the end of the day, Jerusalemites are all living in Jerusalem together trying to coexist with each other 365 days a year and we deserve to have as much felafel and ice cream as we want any day of the year.