Jewish Journal

What Jerusalem Day means to me

by Noga Gur-Arieh

May 8, 2013 | 12:20 pm

Jerusalem. No place like it. Photo by Wikipedia.

Jerusalem. A meeting place of holy and secular. A place of synagogues, churches and mosques. A place there old and new merge into something so beautiful, so special, it takes your breath away. No place in the world is like Jerusalem. No experience in the world matches standing in front of the Western Wall, closing your eyes, and feeling something indescribable inside.

I've been to Jerusalem countless times. It is an hour away from my home. With time, it stopped stimulating that special place in my Jewish heart, reserved for the holy city. I don't long there, I don't feel the need to pray for "the next year in Jerusalem," because it is right there, an hour away. I visit there a lot, but only when my parents want us to take a trip there and enjoy the city.

It's not that I feel nothing. I mean, no matter who you are, where you're from and what your beliefs are, Jerusalem does something to you. Religious, secular, young or old- you cannot stay indifferent to the wonders of this city. When you enter its gates, something turns on inside you, and you feel more alive than ever before. Jerusalem is a state of mind. It is a powerful connection between body and spirit, a place of completeness.

The thing is, once something is handed to you, you tend to take it for granted. This is why I think it's important for me to remember Jerusalem day. Not because I am a spiritual person, because I'm really not. Also not because I believe this city must be owned by Judaism, because I admire its openness to all religions.  I find this day important, because it reminds me that things weren't always at our reach. Jerusalem day reminds me that back then, when Israel fought daily for its existence; people gave up their lives for what they believed in and longed for.

I may be too young or cynical to truly understand the meaning of Jerusalem, but I see people around me, who breathe Jerusalem in their every move. I also see people who live far away from here, people to whom Jerusalem is not within a reach, but they always pray turning east, longing for the holy city, which is, in a way, the essence of the Jewish identity.

My favorite spot there is in front of the Tower of David. When I stood there for the first time and looked around, I felt like all the worries and sorrows of the world no longer existed. I felt the Jerusalem breeze blowing through my body and my soul, carrying thousands of years of history and fading away into thousands more years to come. I don't feel it anymore, but I will always remember that experience. This was the time I felt lucky for having the honor and right to stand on the ground of the most important city in the world.

This day reminds me that no other place in the world compares to Jerusalem. It is a place holy to all, where all share the same feelings. It is the center of the world, a common ground to three religions. It is a peaceful place, where the air is crystal clear and the sun sets in perfection. It is where I feel most connected to my roots, and the only place where I feel I can talk to God, and he can truly listen.

Jerusalem of Gold/ Neomi Shemer

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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