Half-Rejoicing with Jerusalem

Haim Watzman

“Rejoice with Jerusalem,” says the prophet Isaiah. Recall its destruction whenever you celebrate, says the Psalmist. In two months time we’ll mourn its destruction with the fast of the Ninth of Av; today is Jerusalem Day, Israel’s celebration of its capital city. Both ancient texts and modern realities force us to conceive of the Holy City with the ambiguity of joy and sorrow and the complexities of war and peace.

If you’re a religious Jew, Jerusalem is not just another city. If you are an Israeli, you can’t not share the elation of that day in June 1967 when the Old City, blocked to Jews for 19 years, became accessible again. If you live in Jerusalem today, with your eyes open, you can’t help but see how disunited the city is, its Arab neighborhoods alien and invisible to its Jewish inhabitants.

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