My first wife Kathy A”H worked as the English secretary (1969-72) for Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Jerusalem and he gave her this photo. It was a picture of the first wall that was taken down after the Six Day War from the corner of Rechov Yaffo and Rechov HaTzanchanim (which was one block up the street from Jaffa Gate, just as you approached the Jerusalem Municipality Bldg.) that separated new Jerusalem from old Jerusalem.
My generation’s children were born into a world in which the State of Israel and the unified city of Jerusalem always existed. But those of us, who were born pre-1967, remember what our children take for granted. We remember the terror of the days that preceded the Six Day War. I remember sitting in our den, on Victoria Ave. in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and watching Walter Cronkite and the news. I remember him speaking of how the Egyptians had blocked the Suez Canal from all ships going or coming to or from Israel and how he expelled all UN troops from Sharm-El-Sheikh. I remember Gamel Abdul Nasser spewing hatred against both Israel and Jews all over the world and inciting the Egyptian populace to prepare for the utter destruction of Israel. I remember Cronkite speaking about how Israel was surrounded by Arab nations on all her borders and the rhetoric being spewed about murdering every Jew and pushing any survivors into the Mediterranean Sea. I remember going to the Shaar HaShomayim synagogue and being led by Rabbi Sam Stollman A”H and Cantor Saul Nadvan A”H, praying together with over a thousand Jews, using tunes from Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur and beseeching God to please intercede and save our Israeli brethren and our homeland from utter annihilation. I remember looking over at my father A”H, a holocaust survivor and the strongest man I ever knew, weeping over what we all anticipated to be Israel’s last day.
I remember waking up the next morning, the first day of the Six Day War and watching a defeated Egypt being chased across the Suez. A few days later, I remember Israel miraculously capturing the Old City of Jerusalem and listening to Rabbi Shlomo Goren ZT”L, the chief chaplain of the Israel Defense Forces arriving at our Kotel (the Wailing or Western Wall) and blowing the Shofar and assuring us all that God is Great and that Jews will forever have access to our holy places. I remember after six days how we, yes we Jews all over the world, humbled and proud at the unbelievable miracle of victory over our enemies, at the capture of the Sinai and beyond – almost to Cairo, Jerusalem and the West Bank, and of course the Golan Heights and beyond – almost to Bagdad. I remember how the UN demanded that Israel as a gesture of peace, return all lands beyond the Red Sea and beyond the Golan Heights.
Our children take most of this for granted, just like I take for granted Chanukah and so many other victories in our glorious history. But today, on Yom Yerushalayim – the anniversary of the reuniting of Jerusalem, I am still awed at HaShem’s love of His people and I say, Hodu LaHaShem Ki Tov, Ki L’Olam Chasdo – Let us praise HaShem for He is good, and His loving-kindness is eternal.