In less than a week, thousands of Jews will descend upon Jerusalem and celebrate the unification of a city that is the bedrock of the religion’s ancient civilization. Per Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim) tradition, young children, women, and men will joyously wave blue and white flags emblazoned with the Star of David as they march through the Old City and her surrounding neighborhoods.
Their cheers will reverberate off of nearly every nook and cranny of the city, with the exception of one historic landmark: The Temple Mount.
That’s right, for the first time since the holiday was established, the holy site to both Jews and Muslims will be closed off to the former. Israel’s security establishment has made the call due to Jerusalem Day coinciding with Ramadan and said it’s best that the Mount be closed off for Jews for fear of potential clashes.
For those living in the Old City, specifically in the city’s areas that were once the center of Jewish life in Jerusalem, these kind of double-standards and restrictions are nothing new. Harassment, fear, and intimidation are the new normal for Jews who simply want to live in the land God gave them.
The residents of eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem are the embodiment of an ongoing struggle to keep a united Jerusalem in Jewish hands.
Need proof? One need look no further than Rabbi Nechemia Lavi (May his memory be avenged), who was slain in October 2015, while trying to save fellow Jews on their way to pray at the Western Wall. Or, take, for example, a United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Council resolution in 2017 which determined that Israel is an “occupying” force in East Jerusalem. Or finally, Arab countries backing legislation forbidding Jews to rightfully purchase property in their nation’s capital.
Ateret Cohanim understands the uphill battle these intrepid Jews face on a daily basis, and rather than standing idly by, it is supporting them in any way they can.
“A united Jerusalem is all of Jerusalem. It’s not just West Jerusalem. The area around the Temple Mount, what is so-called East Jerusalem, is the foundation of the Jewish people’s right to live anywhere in Israel,” Chaim Leibtag, Marketing Director for the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim said.
“While US President Donald Trump should be commended for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, there is still much work to be done,” Leibtag said.
As such, the organization is holding a gala dinner in New York City’s Marriott Marquis Hotel in Time Square to honor its major supporters and stand by those whose very homes are on the frontline of the Arab/Israeli conflict.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was brutally attacked when an antisemitic gunman opened fire at his Chabad synagogue in Poway, San Diego on the last day of Passover, will be featured as the night’s guest speaker. Goldstein’s message of hope in the face of unspeakable hatred is one that all Jews should take to heart when faced with adversity, Leibtag said.
“His response to the terrible tragedy was to bring a message of hope in the face of terror. What we do is just, correct and we won’t be intimidated,” Leibtag asserted. “That is what our residents and the people who participate in our community in the so-called Muslim and Christian Quarters believe in. They go through it every day. ‘We want to be your neighbors and live in peace’ they say, but we should be able to live anywhere in Israel.”
While Jews living in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in or around the Old City, (like the Old Jewish Quarter, Maaleh HaZeitim, Kidmat Zion, Kfar Hateimanim in Shiloach) may not have to contend with an active shooter as did Rabbi Goldstein, every day is a harrowing one. They must travel with security, otherwise, they’re liable to face stone throwings or other kinds of harassment. Often, they take the long way home, for fear that a shortcut may end in injury or death.
Ateret Cohanim understands that not everyone who sympathizes with their hardship can be in New York to help out. As such, for those who are not in New York and still want to help their Jewish brothers and sisters, the organization is spearheading a worldwide fundraising campaign on Jerusalem Day itself, Sunday, June 2. Because Kol Yisrael Arevim zeh ba-zeh
(all of Israel is responsible for one another), any contribution given can help erect a playground, renovation or boost security for Jewish families looking to live in peace in Eretz Israel.
Donations can be made at https://www.causematch.com/en/projects/ateret-cohanim/ and for more information on the dinner or contribute to Ateret Cohanim visit: jerusalemchai.org/dinner.