If I Forget You, Jerusalem

Yael Eckstein  |  May 18, 2020

Yael Eckstein at Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City
Yael Eckstein praying at the Western Wall

For thousands of years, Jewish people have uttered the words: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy” (Psalm 137:5-6).

Following the biblical words, the Jewish people did everything possible to make sure that Jerusalem would not be forgotten. These traditions continue to this day. Under the wedding canopy, every Jewish groom breaks a glass to represent that, even at our most joyful moments, we remember. Every Jewish home has a wall that remains unfinished or a piece of art that represents Jerusalem. Every prayer from any Jewish person, anywhere in the world, is said facing Jerusalem. The Jewish people may have been separated in body from Jerusalem, but our souls were never separated.

A Modern Miracle

Jerusalem Day, which Israel will observe this year beginning on May 21 at sundown, celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem and the fulfillment of the Jewish dream. In Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, the Jordanians took most of Jerusalem, including all of the Old City and the Western Wall. Nineteen years later, Jerusalem was redeemed and reunified during the Six-Day War.

It was one of the most miraculous wars in modern times. In 1967, tiny Israel defeated three invading Arab armies – the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and the Syrians. Israel was greatly outgunned and outmanned. It was a war that Israel did not want and did not think it was possible to win. Yet, Israel was gloriously triumphant. With the help of God, Israel not only defended her citizens, but also managed to regain what had been lost in 1948, including Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.

I can only imagine the joy in our country after the war in 1967. I have seen the celebratory pictures. I have heard the stories from my father-in-law who fought in the Six-Day War and joined thousands of Israelis on the first Shabbat that Jews were permitted to pray at the Western Wall. My mother visited Israel just three days after the war and also described the euphoric atmosphere.

No Such Thing as Chance

For all of these miracles, we give thanks to God on Jerusalem Day. We praise God with songs and psalms. We renew our love for His holy city and express gratitude for Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, there is no such thing as chance. In good times and in bad, in times of war and peace, everything resonates with a deep and holy spiritual significance.

We are so very grateful to be back in Jerusalem, to be a sovereign nation with this city as our capital. Each year when I celebrate Jerusalem Day, I thank God that His people heeded the biblical words to never forget Jerusalem. Because of that, today I am free to worship at the Western Wall, visit the graves of our prophets, walk the Mount of Olives, and witness biblical prophecy being fulfilled.

With blessings from the Holy Land,

Yael Eckstein's Signature