This past week my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We invited many of their friends to a surprise party and my brother flew in from Israel – it was a very special few days.
Why do we care so much about anniversaries? Why the need to celebrate? The answer is simply that whether it is our anniversary or someone else’s, we celebrate the achievement of the original event whether that is someone’s birth or someone’s wedding day.
Then there are the big anniversaries – the silver, the ruby and of course the golden. These take on a higher level of appreciation and celebration as we can truly see that the original event was not short lived but is continuing and each major landmark deserves recognition and thanks.
Along with all of these thanks is the ultimate gratitude to Hashem who has brought us to each and every celebration and achievement. Then there is the other 50th that I will celebrating with my family this year. However, at the moment this landmark anniversary is not garnering the same type of passion, the same commitment as I believe it should. This May, a reunited Jerusalem turns 50 and we celebrate 50 years of the resumption of the marriage between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. We were separated for nearly 2000 years but we never gave up the dream of coming back together and on 28th Iyar 1967 that dream became a reality.
Why did my family make such an effort for my parents 50th – because they are everything to us, they gave us our family, connected us to community, imbued in us a Jewish identity and so much more. Jerusalem is the centre of the Jewish world, it is the soul of our community, it fuels our identity and when you are there, you feel so much part of the family.
Hashem in his wisdom and kindness brought us back, the miracles, the bravery, the tears of joy, THAT picture. As Naomi Shemer famously said ‘Chazarnu al borot hamayim la shuk va la kikar, shofar koreh b har habayit, b ir ha atika’ ‘We have returned to the cisterns and to the market place, the shofar calls out from har ha bayit in the Old City’. That shofar blown by Rav Goren, announced to the world ‘Ha Kotel b yadenu’ The Kotel is in our hands.
This year it is time, time for the entire Jewish world to wake up and realise what a generation we are living in. How blessed we are to be living in these times when we have Medinat Yisrael and we have Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh. This is our anniversary, our Golden anniversary for a golden city and we must ask ourselves as the family of the Jewish people what we are doing to celebrate and commemorate this pivotal day in modern Jewish history?
The answer should be obvious – we are getting on a plane to join the global celebration in Jerusalem. To celebrate with Yaacov Shwekey in a major opening gala event with the President of Israel. To attend the international Jerusalem Conference “A Jewish State – Challenges & Opportunities In The 21st Century” and hear from the Chief Rabbi Mirivs, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Nir Barkat, Naftali Bennet and Michael Oren. To join with the soldiers who liberated the Kotel in 1967 and all the hesder yeshivot to sing a Hallel at the Kotel exactly 50 years since Rav Goren immortal words. To dance with half a million Jews as we sing and dance to the Kotel and proclaim to the world – this is our eternal Capital of the Jewish people.
The answer should be obvious – but the response has not been overwhelming. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, to be a part of the ultimate wedding anniversary and share that love, that passion, that sense of gratitude to Hashem and a connection to the people of Israel, the Torah of Israel in the Land of Israel. We can all find reasons why we shouldn’t be there but I want all of us to be able to say that we made sacrifices to make sure we were standing at the Kotel on that historic day in May 2017.
So, join me, Chief Rabbi Mirvis, Rabbi Sacks, Yaacov Shwekey and hundreds of thousands of others and book for an anniversary celebration you and your family will never forget. British Jewry needs to be there in force, there should be hundreds of us, this is our chance to demonstrate to ourselves, to our families, to our communities, to our work colleagues and to the wider world what Jerusalem means to us.
50 years ago it meant something – it still means something now!
TO BOOK: https://mizrachi.org/yy50/
INVITATION FROM THE PARATROOPERS WHO LIBERATED THE KOTEL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElJ81J8TPcI