As Jerusalem Day begins, I share these reflections on the holy city – what it means and what it has meant to different people and different traditions. Like the city itself, the various comments both compliment and contradict each other. My personal reflections for this Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, will be posted later.
“For three thousand years, Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish hope and longing. No other city has played such a dominant role in the history, culture, religion and consciousness of a people as has Jerusalem in the life of Jewry and Judaism. Throughout centuries of exile, Jerusalem remained alive in the hearts of Jews everywhere as the focal point of Jewish history, the symbol of ancient glory, spiritual fulfillment and modern renewal. This heart and soul of the Jewish people engenders the thought that if you want one simple word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word would be ‘Jerusalem.’” — Teddy Kollek
“Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem.” —Talmud: Kiddushin 49b
“Here (Jerusalem), tears do not weaken the eyes, they only polish and shine the hardness of faces like stone.” — Yehuda Amichai, Israeli poet.
“The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.” Thomas Paine
“No people blessed as thine, no city like Jerusalem” -Christian Hymn
“One prayer in Jerusalem is worth 40,000 elsewhere.” -Islamic Saying
“Jerusalem is a festival and a lamentation. Its song is a sigh across the ages, a delicate, robust, mournful psalm at the great junction of spiritual cultures.” — David K. Shipler, author and journalist
“Jerusalem will only be redeemed through [the merit of giving] charity.” — Talmud: Shabbat 139a
“There are three gates to Gehinam (hell) – one of them is in Jerusalem.” — Talmud: Eruvin 19a
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.” — Psalms 122:6-7