‘Har Habayit b’yadenu!’ ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands!’ Who can forget those profound words that reverberated resoundingly over the army radio as Colonel Motta Gur shouted them after his forces drove through the Lion’s Gate to liberate the Old City at the end of the 1967 Six Day War? Those were momentous evocative words spoken at one of the most significant and intense periods in Israel’s history which we recall each year on Yom Hazikaron as we memorialize Israel’s fallen soldiers . Yet, I heard them again on the eve of Tish’a B’av as we circled the gates of the old city, stopping at Lion’s Gate.
We decided, Meyer and I, to experience a Tish’a B’av as we never had. It was my first ever Tish’a B’av in Israel so why not do something different? We decided to join an Eicha reading in Independence Park in Jerusalem across from the American Consulate. A beautiful cool evening greeted us as we sat on the lawn listening to Eicha. The reading was the sixteenth of its kind, sponsored by an organization called Women in Green, a grassroots organization which believes in the motto ‘The Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel.’
Right up my alley!! Following Eicha, the thousands strong group marched around the walls of the Old City, stopping at each gate to hear the sound of the shofar. We marched under heavy security throughout and as we arrived at the Lion’s Gate, we stopped to listen to speeches from Yoram Ettinger, MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad and Rabbi Shalom Gold (former Rabbi of Young Israel of West Hempstead). Each spoke passionately of the importance of maintaining Jerusalem united and strong and of resisting those American officials pressuring Israel. Rabbi Gold intoned that when he speaks of Jerusalem, he speaks of all of Israel. We each must be accountable for our actions for all generations. He said ‘we are obligated to guard Eretz Yisrael for all generations’. I listened intently to these remarks as I stood by the Lion’s Gate and thought of the profundity of the now famous words of Colonel Motta Gur: We are mourning this day because Har Habayit is Not in our hands. There is no Beit Hamikdash, (Temple) and we mourn its’ destruction and pray for a time when all will be right in the world, when there will be unity not divisiveness, respect for one another versus contempt or disregard for the other.
Yechezkel came home from the army on Tish’a B’av day towards the late afternoon for a week of vacation before he changes bases. He completed his driving course, passed the exam and is now qualified to drive large supply trucks all over Israel. Shabbat was quiet and uneventful. We were invited for dinner Friday evening to the aliyah coordinator of Maale Adumim who lives at the entrance to Maaleh Adumim, about a 30 minute walk from where we live. We ate outside and enjoyed lovely dinner and good company. Shabbat was quiet and restful. I spent a fun day with Yechezkel this past Monday. We visited the Supreme Court of Israel, a beautiful building complex combining old and new architecture, contrasting the biblical with the modern. We sat in an appeal case for a few minutes and learned about the judicial system here. There were very few men wearing kippot, as Yechezkel pointed out which is a shame. But two of the justices we saw were wearing kippot. Much can be discussed about the judicial system here and much can be debated. There is definitely a left leaning political approach to the court in many matters, particularly those involving governmental and military decisions, from what I know, nevertheless, it is a grand, impressive, splendid structure and it was humbling to be in its midst.
Our next stop was lunch and then onto a movie, Toy Story 3. All in all, it was a wonderful mother/son day, spent talking and enjoying the quality time together. It’s so vitally important to simply have fun here, to laugh, to experience, to enjoy. We fight for survival on a daily basis. We fight for legitimacy in a world that chooses to demonize us with every opportunity it gets. There is just way too much to be concerned about on a daily basis here, that laughter and love are the remedies of choice.
Live, love, laugh.