The Maale Center for Religious Zionism on Sunday night held a joint Jerusalem Day event with the Beit Orot Yeshiva.
The event was held at the yeshiva's campus, on the Mount of Olives, and attended by Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud), Jerusalem's Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich, Beit Orot Yeshiva Dean Rabbi Dani Isaac, Nir Yeshiva Head Rabbi Noam Waldman, and Maale CEO Rafi Kaplan.
The evening began with an evening prayer service, as well as singing and dancing. Afterwards, there were Torah lectures highlighting the importance of Jerusalem as the eternal Jewish capital.
"Today, in the State of Israel, Jerusalem symbolizes the spiritual aspect of our return to our land," Elkin said. "We are obligated to do everything to ensure that the connection to Jerusalem is shared by all parts of our nation. Our challenge is to turn Jerusalem Day into what Independence Day symbolizes for the Israeli public."
"Jerusalem includes various and varied sectors of society, which can decide to fight or argue, or choose to unite to advance the city.
"Hopefully, we will succeed in turning this holiday into a holiday celebrated by all sectors in Israel, and turn the city into 'a city that is closely connected.'" (Psalms 122:3)
Kalmanovich added, "A person does not recognize his own miracles. As a seventh-generation Jerusalemite, and as someone who lived in Jerusalem before the Six Day War, my childhood memories are of a small and divided city. We played near the Legion posts, and any ball that flew into no-man's-land was gone forever. In the Mamila neighborhood (near the Old City - ed.) near my parents' home, we lived opposite a fence of wires and obstacles. Today, we're not aware of the great miracle which happened to us, and so there is even more importance in noting, with thanks, the great miracle which occurred 51 years ago."
"It's very meaningful to hold an event like this, which places Jerusalem 'above our highest joy' (Psalms 137:6) as we look out over where the Holy Temple stood," Kaplan said. "We can see over the top of Mount Scopus, and we are standing on the Mount of Olives, in the Beit Orot Yeshiva, which continues to light up the entire area. In this place, Hanan Porat worked to create a memorial for his beloved commander, Giyora Ashkenazi, who fell in the war to free Jerusalem and reunite the city."
"There are those who are not yet ready to recognize Jerusalem as our capital, but to us, that doesn't really matter. No other nation is so connected to its capital. I have never heard of an American who says, 'I will place Washington above my highest joy' during his wedding. On their happiest of days, English and French do not mention London or Paris, but every Jew throughout history, in every place in the world, says often 'If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.'" (Psalms 137:5)