Religious Jews in the UK will be waiting for Shabbat to go out so they can begin…
Of course, I am talking about the start of Yom Yerushalayim on Motzei Shabbat, where in Edgware United after a Seudah and Shiur on Yerushalayim we shall have a festive Maariv at 10:12pm and recite Hallel. What else could it be?
Part of the problem is that unfortunately more Jews know it is the Champions League final than Yom Yerushalayim!
To me Yom Yerushalayim is one of the greatest days in the last 2000 years, a day which transformed our people, a day which had been prophesied for centuries and then on the 28th Iyar 5727 the prophecy came true, Hashem brought us back to Yerushalayim. We came home.
It is well worth a watch; it is the most watched TED talk of all time! I think his ideas are just as relevant to Jewish education. However, what really got me thinking in terms of Yom Yerushalayim was a story he told towards the end of the talk.
‘I had a conversation with a wonderful woman who maybe most people have never heard of, Gillian Lynne. Have you heard of her? Some have. She’s a choreographer, and everybody knows her work. She did “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.” She’s wonderful. Gillian and I had lunch one day. I said, “How did you get to be a dancer?” It was interesting. When she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school, in the ’30s, wrote to her parents and said, “We think Gillian has a learning disorder.” She couldn’t concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they’d say she had ADHD. Wouldn’t you? But this was the 1930s, and ADHD hadn’t been invented at this point. It wasn’t an available condition.
People weren’t aware they could have that.
Anyway, she went to see this specialist. So, this oak-panelled room, and she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes, while this man talked to her mother about all the problems Gillian was having at school, because she was disturbing people, her homework was always late, and so on. Little kid of eight. In the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian and said, “I’ve listened to all these things your mother’s told me. I need to speak to her privately. Wait here. We’ll be back. We won’t be very long,” and they went and left her.
But as they went out of the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out of the room, he said to her mother, “Just stand and watch her.” And the minute they left the room, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes, and he turned to her mother and said, “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick. She’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.”
I said, “What happened?” She said, “She did. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room, and it was full of people like me — people who couldn’t sit still, people who had to move to think.” Who had to move to think. They did ballet, they did tap, jazz; they did modern; they did contemporary. She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School. She became a soloist; she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School, founded the Gillian Lynne Dance Company, met Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful musical theatre productions in history, she’s given pleasure to millions, and she’s a multimillionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.’
The Jewish people were born to sing and dance.
We danced out of Mitzrayim as we crossed the sea.
The Leviim sung in the Mishkan as we built a home for Hashem.
David danced the Ark into Yerushalayim as he made it his capital.
The nation danced at the Simchat Beit Hashoeva in Yerushalayim in the first and second Temples.
And then the Babylonians came and destroyed Bayit Rishon.
And then the Romans came and destroyed Bayit Sheni.
And then the Romans murdered millions of us and exiled us from Yerushalayim.
And then we stopped dancing.
And then we began wandering, crying, praying, hoping.
However, wherever we were in the world the Jewish people did not forget their homeland. In every prayer, every blessing, at every event, whether joyful or sad, we remembered the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, we remembered how we used to dance.
And then it happened, first in 1948 we began to feel the energy returning to our aching limbs and then in 1967, 250,000 descended on that first Shavout to sing and dance, we had returned as our prophets had foretold.
We need to wake up and realise the incredible blessing Hashem has given us, and tomorrow night and Sunday we need to come together to thank Hashem and to realise that we are a rejuvenated people, that we are living in an era of Reishit Tzmichat Geulatenu ‘the beginning of our redemption.’
Tomorrow night in Madrid, a song will be sung, the lyrics remind us of all those centuries where we could not dance.
‘When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone.’
Rabbi Akiva told us 2000 years ago that we would return, that we would never be alone, that there would be centuries of darkness and storms but that Hashem would be with us through those centuries till we came back to the ‘golden sky’ of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.
So join us for our nationwide celebration of Yom Yerushalayim 52!
We begin with Seudah Shelisit at Alei Tzion or Edgware United. Then join us on Sunday at shuls all over the UK, join us at lunchtime at Western Marble Arch for Dreams of a Nation and then of course the main event in Hendon from 7pm to celebrate, to sing, to maybe even dance as we give thanks to Hashem on the 52nd anniversary of the return of the Jewish people to Yerushalayim with music from Chazan Jonny Turgel and the Asaf Flumi band.