How Happy Should We Be?

Robert Lichtmanby Robert Lichtman, Chief Jewish Learning Officer

In our cautiously calibrated society, we tend to measure most things on a spectrum. Is my glass half empty, or half full? On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, how would you rate this movie? It is Yom Yerushalayim, how happy should we be?

Well, it is Yom Yerushalayim in Yerushalayim and I am privileged to be the professional from our Federation accompanying a mission specifically dedicated to representing our community in the celebration taking place this week. The mission is led by Richard Perl based on a very simple notion: Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in our Bible; Jerusalem is the direction in which we pray three times a day; Jerusalem has been the unfulfilled dream of hundreds of generations… until ours.

Yom Yerushalayim MissionThis is the 50th anniversary of the day in which the old city and the new city of Jerusalem were reunited. It is 50 years that Jews have unimpeded access to sites that have been holy to us and wholly out of reach. It is 50 years that we have been able to celebrate the voices of grooms and brides in the hills and environs of Jerusalem. It has been 50 years of Jewish children singing and playing and running on the cobblestone streets. It has been 50 years that we have been able to do any of this for over 2,000 years. A hundred generations of Jews have dreamed and yearned to do what we can wake up any morning and now do.  

How happy should we be?

Yes, new realities bring new challenges. Yes, there are serious and even existential issues that remain unresolved and maybe unresolvable. Yes there are ethical and moral and legal ramifications to all of this.

For one moment though, maybe even for one full day, can we just be happy? Can we place Jerusalem "above our utmost joy?” Can we sing, and dance, and wave the flag and offer full-throated thanks to God and the Israel Defense Forces? Can we stand proudly as Americans shoulder to shoulder with our closest ally and best hope for civilization nestled in the cradle of civilization?

Yes we can. Yes we did. Happy Yom Yerushalayim  ̶  from Jerusalem. 

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