Today, in honor of Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day – Arutz Sheva spoke with Daniel Luria, executive director of Ateret Cohanim. On this day, when we remember the past, Ateret Cohanim is also looking to the future, full of plans for ways to ensure that Jerusalem remains unified and in Jewish hands.
“For us, every single day is Yom Yerushalayim,” Luria stresses. Every single day provides an opportunity to build the holy city, but “every so often, the greatness peaks and that’s the day – today – when we remember the miracles that occurred during the Six-Day War, when we returned to the heart of Jerusalem.”
According to Luria, “The Six-Day War opened the door to a redemptive process, but we’re still part of that unfolding process – I see our times as the Seventh-Day War, fighting, like modern-day paratroopers, to keep Jerusalem in Jewish hands.”
Standing in front of a stunning backdrop of the Old City of Jerusalem, Luria describes how Jewish life has flourished in the heart of Jerusalem since that first Jerusalem Day, 54 years ago. “All around me, there are thousands of Jews living in the Old Jewish Quarter,” he says. “We also have a Jewish neighborhood on the Mount of Olives – Maale Zeitim – and Jewish families are now living in the Old Yemenite Village nearby, as well as in Kidmat Tzion, opposite the Arab neighborhood of Abu Dis.”
Despite Ateret Cohanim’s stunning achievements to date, the organization is not resting on its laurels but is forever looking forward and moving forward, with plans being developed and put into practice.
“I can now tell you about our new project, the Shiloah Heights, between the Yemenite Village and the Mount of Olives,” Luria says, his enthusiasm brimming. “We already have 22 families living there in six buildings, and we’re in the process of adding another two magnificent and strategic buildings, to house another 13 families.”
This is the focus of Jerusalem Day, Yom Yerushalayim, this year for Ateret Cohanim – raising needed funds to finish renovating both of these buildings so that thirteen new families can move in. “It’s great that we managed to acquire these buildings, but until there are Jewish families living there, learning in yeshivot, praying in the synagogues, walking in the streets, it’s not the same thing,” Luria stresses.
“Especially now, with the renewed outbreak of violence, this is the time to show the Arab world that we’re not going anywhere, despite Arab hatred and aggression. It’s important to note that Ramadan is really just an excuse for the violence – they’re taking advantage of the fact that there are a lot more Arabs in Jerusalem right now. But we need to show strength and conviction, as the rightful heirs to the city.”
What is Luria’s message to the Jews of the world, wherever they may be?
“We’re giving you the opportunity today, to be part of this, to help keep Jerusalem in Jewish hands,” he replies unhesitatingly. “Help us to dream and also to redeem. Thank G-d there’s no shortage of Arabs willing to sell, nor of Jews ready to buy. Help us to put the words ‘Leshanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim’ into practice.
“Every Jew who has Jerusalem running through his veins and believes that Jerusalem should be under Jewish sovereignty should see today as the day to contribute. The key to Jerusalem is in your hands!”