MMY Celebrates 40 Years of United Jerusalem and Liberated Hebron by Anna Engel
The year 5767 (2007) marks the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War, the liberation of Yehuda and Shomron and the unification of Jerusalem. In MMY, our students had the privilege of participating in various celebrations in Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim (the 28th of Iyar, the day the city was liberated). Just two days later, the girls had the unique privilege of spending a Shabbat in Hebron - just one day after the anniversary of the liberation of this other holy city. Below is one student's recollections of these special days.
You know that feeling you get when you realize that you have been spending your whole life celebrating a holiday completely wrong? After an unforgettable Yom Yerushalayim in Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh itself, I cannot even recollect how I ever payed tribute to the 28th of Iyar properly before.
Dressed in full blue and white garb, most MMYers started off their evening at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav, where the tone of the day was set with joyous davening and an enormous Israeli flag strewn across the bimah. With songs of “Hodu LeHashem Kitov” and Tehillim 126 to the tune of Hatikva still ringing in our ears, the events of the night unfolded based on every girls’ choice of activities. From song and dance at an all women’s program in Binyanei HaUma to shiurim and a walk to the kotel for tefillat vatikin with Mercaz Harav, the night of Yom Yerushalayim was far from uneventful.
Rain. The next day brought pouring rain – very unusual in the middle of May! Standing inside the Central Bus Station, my friends and I, along with hundreds of other anxious Israeli teens, are devastated to hear that the notorious "Rikudegalim" ("Flag Dance") down Rechov Yaffo to the kotel may not take place because of the torrential downpour. Suddenly, I overhear a distant melody - the singing of “Am Yisrael Chai”. In true Sabra fashion – stubborn and relentless to the core – a group of 40 Dati Leumi Israeli teenage boys have begun their own celebration of Yom Yerushalayim in front of Steimatsky Bookstore. For a good thirty minutes, they sing and dance, joined by soldiers and secular teens, including a trip up and down the escalators. (For future reference: spontaneity is definitely the key for these true Israeli chavayot.)
Thank G-d, the rain stops in time for us to join the gathering of thousands of Israel teenage girls in Gan Sacher, where we begin the march to the kotel, complete with celebratory song and dance and innumerable hoards of Israeli flags. Walking into the old city is unbelievable. Maybe it's just me, but it seems the emotions the soldiers who recaptured the city 40 years ago must have experienced is so palpable, I almost feel as if they are marching right alongside me. Ignoring my weary feet and overall fatigue, I join circle after dancing circle, singing praise to Hashem at one of our holiest sights.
Continuing with the theme of the Six Day War and the return to Eretz Yisrael Hakedosha, we spent Shabbat in Hevron Ir Hakodesh. Davening Shemoneh Esreh at M'arat HaMachpela is usually an emotional experience. Invoking the names of the Avot at their very burial sight is simply indescribable. After encountering the people who live in Hevron and put their lives on the line every day to live there, it occurred to me that most people might think them certifiably insane. Perhaps. But there is also an element of incontrovertible admiration for their utter devotion to the cause. Speaker after speaker shared their firsthand encounters with spiteful Arab neighbors and an uncooperative Israeli government. Yet despite all odds, they make their lives here, 80 Jewish families amid 7200 Palestinians, so that the holy Ma’arat HaMachpelah can remain in Israeli hands.
As motivating as the Shabbat was, it was also tinged with the bittersweet taste of being one of our last Shabbatons this year, marking the winding down of an unparallelled year in Artzeinu HaKedosha.