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Monday, June 06, 2005

Yom Yerushalayim

Today is Jerusalem Day... the anniversary of the reunification of the city of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967.

Last night Zahava and I attended a Bar Mitzvah which was held in a beautiful setting on the promenade that overlooks the old city of Jerusalem.  Besides being a lovely affair, we felt privileged to be able to look out over the entire city of Jerusalem at night.  During the evening we drifted outside into the cool flower-scented air with a bunch of the celebrants to watch the fireworks bursting over the twinkling lights of our Capitol city... and to take in the golden glow of the old city's stone walls.

After the affair we walked back to our car and passed several hundred soldiers who had gathered for an impromptu celebration on the scenic spot.  They were dancing in big circles and unabashedly singing songs about Jerusalem.  I can't tell you how wonderful it was to see Jewish soldiers - most of them non-religious - dancing hand-in-hand and singing 'B'Yerushalyim' (In Jerusalem) while looking out over the Temple Mount:

And the lost [Jews] of the land of Assyria arrived
as did the exiles of the land of Egypt

And they bowed in prayer to the Lord on the Holy Mountain

In Jerusalem, in Jerusalem **

Every year on this day, no matter where I am, I try to take a few minutes to listen to the crackly old radio broadcast of the recapture of the old city by Motti Gur's Paratroop forces.  Yossi Ronen was the news broadcaster reporting the event.  Rav Shlomo Goren, who was the Chief Rabbi of the IDF at the time (and also held the rank of General, having served as a soldier in the Haganah - Israel's pre-state army), joined the Paratroopers at the Kotel HaMa'aravi (Western Wall) and led them in prayer.  Colonel Motti Gur was the Military commander of the forces that recaptured the old city.

This a wonderful translation that was done by IsraCast*.  I strongly recommend that those who understand Hebrew go to their site and click the yellow link in the upper left hand corner and listen to the recording. 

To properly appreciate this you need to imagine being somewhere in Israel at the time and hearing this broadcast over your radio at home... or wherever your reserve unit was stationed at that moment.  Go get the tissues before you start listening!

Colonel Motta Gur [on loudspeaker]: All company commanders, we’re sitting right now on the ridge and we’re seeing the Old City. Shortly we’re going to go in to the Old City of Jerusalem, that all generations have dreamed about. We will be the first to enter the Old City. Eitan’s tanks will advance on the left and will enter the Lion’s Gate. The final rendezvous will be on the open square above.
[The open square of the Temple Mount.]

[Sound of applause by the soldiers.]

Yossi Ronen: We are now walking on one of the main streets of Jerusalem towards the Old City. The head of the force is about to enter the Old City.


Yossi Ronen: There is still shooting from all directions; we’re advancing towards the entrance of the Old City.

[Sound of gunfire and soldiers’ footsteps.]

[Yelling of commands to soldiers.]

[More soldiers’ footsteps.]

The soldiers are keeping a distance of approximately 5 meters between them. It’s still dangerous to walk around here; there is still sniper shooting here and there.


We’re all told to stop; we’re advancing towards the mountainside; on our left is the Mount of Olives; we’re now in the Old City opposite the Russian church. I’m right now lowering my head; we’re running next to the mountainside. We can see the stone walls. They’re still shooting at us. The Israeli tanks are at the entrance to the Old City, and ahead we go, through the Lion’s Gate. I’m with the first unit to break through into the Old City. There is a Jordanian bus next to me, totally burnt; it is very hot here. We’re about to enter the Old City itself. We’re standing below the Lion’s Gate, the Gate is about to come crashing down, probably because of the previous shelling. Soldiers are taking cover next to the palm trees; I’m also staying close to one of the trees. We’re getting further and further into the City.


Colonel Motta Gur announces on the army wireless: The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!

All forces, stop firing! This is the David Operations Room. All forces, stop firing! I repeat, all forces, stop firing! Over.

Commander eight-nine here, is this Motta (Gur) talking? Over.

[Inaudible response on the army wireless by Motta Gur.]

Uzi Narkiss: Motta, there isn’t anybody like you. You’re next to the Mosque of Omar.

Yossi Ronen: I’m driving fast through the Lion’s Gate all the way inside the Old City.

Command on the army wireless: Search the area, destroy all pockets of resistance [but don't touch anything in the houses], especially the holy places.

[Lt.- Col. Uzi Eilam blows the Shofar.  Soldiers are singing ‘Jerusalem of Gold’.]

Uzi Narkiss: Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?

Yossi Ronen: I’m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. I’m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and I’m touching the stones of the Western Wall.

Soldiers: [reciting the ‘Shehechianu’ blessing]: Baruch ata Hashem, elokeinu melech haolam, she-hechianu ve-kiemanu ve-hegianu la-zman ha-zeh. [Translation: Blessed art Thou L-rd G-d King of the Universe who has sustained us and kept us and has brought us to this day]

Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Baruch ata Hashem, menachem tsion u-voneh Yerushalayim. [Translation: Blessed are thou, who comforts Zion and bulids Jerusalem]

Soldiers: Amen!

[Soldiers sing ‘Hatikva’ next to the Western Wall.]

Rabbi Goren: We’re now going to recite the prayer for the fallen soldiers of this war against all of the enemies of Israel:

[Soldiers weeping]

El male rahamim, shohen ba-meromim. Hamtse menuha nahona al kanfei hashina, be-maalot kedoshim, giborim ve-tehorim, kezohar harakiya meirim u-mazhirim. Ve-nishmot halalei tsava hagana le-yisrael, she-naflu be-maaraha zot, neged oievei yisrael, ve-shnaflu al kedushat Hashem ha-am ve-ha’arets, ve-shichrur Beit Hamikdash, Har Habayit, Hakotel ha-ma’aravi veyerushalayim ir ha-elokim. Be-gan eden tehe menuhatam. Lahen ba’al ha-rahamim, yastirem beseter knafav le-olamim. Ve-yitsror be-tsror ha-hayim et nishmatam adoshem hu nahlatam, ve-yanuhu be-shalom al mishkavam [soldiers weeping loud]ve-ya’amdu le-goralam le-kets ha-yamim ve-nomar amen!

[Translation: Merciful G-d in heaven, may the heroes and the pure, be under thy Divine wings, among the holy and the pure who shine bright as the sky, and the souls of soldiers of the Israeli army who fell in this war against the enemies of Israel, who fell for their loyalty to G-d and the land of Israel, who fell for the liberation of the Temple, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Jerusalem the city of the Lord. May their place of rest be in paradise. Merciful One, O keep their souls forever alive under Thy protective wings. The Lord being their heritage, may they rest in peace, for they shalt rest and stand up for their allotted portion at the end of the days, and let us say, Amen.]

[Soldiers are weeping. Rabbi Goren sounds the shofar.  Sound of gunfire in the background.]

Rabbi Goren: Le-shana HA-ZOT be-Yerushalayim ha-b’nuya, be-yerushalayim ha-atika! [Translation: This year in a rebuilt Jerusalem! In the Jerusalem of old!] *

We should never forget or take for granted the sacrifices that were made so that we could have our city back under Jewish Control after 2000 years!

* The historic radio broadcast of the liberation of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall was researched,  transcribed and translated by Yitschak Horneman / Quality Translations, Jerusalem

© 2004 IsraCast. All rights reserved.

** Music by Shlomo Carlebach

Posted by David Bogner on June 6, 2005 | Permalink


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Words simply can't convey the overwhelming surge of pride and national spirit that we experienced when we encountered these festive soldiers! These young women and men who serve and protect both us and our homeland -- to witness their unabashed joy, and share it for a few moments -- just WOW!

Posted by: zahava | Jun 6, 2005 11:09:23 AM

It happens sometimes that I can be having a terrible day where nothing is going well at all and suddenly I realize: I'm walking around in Israel. In Jerusalem. My ancestors would have given all they possessed for one moment of my most mundane day. How have I deserved this? And I spend the rest of the day in awe.

It's only fitting that we remember the sacrifices so many people made and are still making so that we can live here as free people and free Jews.

Posted by: Rahel | Jun 6, 2005 11:56:49 AM

I think that Yerushalayim breathes life into every one of us, however scattered we are in the world. And we do the same for her.

Posted by: Pearl | Jun 6, 2005 1:32:20 PM


Posted by: AmyS | Jun 6, 2005 1:37:06 PM

"Command on the army wireless: Search the area, destroy all pockets of resistance and make sure to enter every single house, especially the holy places."

A mistranslation. He says "Lo lingoa beshum davar, bemiuchad hamekomot hakedoshim" meaning "don't touch (harm) anything, especially the holy places."

Posted by: cosmic x | Jun 6, 2005 4:49:51 PM

Wow, I thought you were kidding, or at least exaggerating, about the tissues. (And Rahel just made it worse...)

Posted by: Tanya | Jun 6, 2005 5:00:18 PM

Zahava... True. Just wow.

Rahel... I hope I never get to the point where I take Jerusalem (or anything else here) for granted.

Pearl... I would agree with the first part, but too many people around the word seem to have forgotten about our historic connection to Jerusalem.

AmyS... I wish I had brought my camera along! Even though I would have never been able to do it justice, the scene with the soldiers was breathtakingly beautiful.

Cosmic X... I didn't look closely at the translation... thank you for setting the record straight. I see now that what is written would not have made any sense.

Posted by: David | Jun 6, 2005 5:02:42 PM

Thanks for the tissue warning. I'm hoping my co-workers attribute all my sniffling and blowing to allergies. Unbelievably moving.

One slight correction - "And the slaves of the land of Assyria arrived" - "ov'dim" is spelled with an aleph and means "lost," not "slaves."

The original is also more accurately translated into the future tense, but I can't really object to translating it into past tense, since, well, it seems to have already happened!

Posted by: Reuven | Jun 6, 2005 5:28:01 PM

After my first comment, I recall what I once read about Yerushalayim -- "We are not so much a part of her, as she is a part of us." That saying goes more in sync with your responding comment to me.

Posted by: Pearl | Jun 6, 2005 5:38:41 PM

goodness that was great and truly moving

Posted by: ritchie | Jun 6, 2005 5:54:08 PM

David - thank you, thank you, thank you for this beautiful and moving post.

I'm not sure what touched me more, the sounds of the IDF soldiers singing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav or the words of Eil Malei Rachamim...or the joy in the sound of the Shofar announcing that we were home again.

Posted by: Elisson | Jun 6, 2005 6:03:10 PM

Tanya... Sorry, I see we cross-posted. I don't kid about tears. When I walk the streets of Jerusalem and can still see the bullet marks on the stone walls of the old city that were made during the battle you can hear on that recording... yeah, I cry.

Reuven... Thanks for the help. I will actually update the post to reflect your correction. The earlier comment with the translation correction of the broadcast from '67 I will leave as is since I am quoting a primary source and don't want to get into issues with the copyright owner.

Pearl... I agree. :-)

Ritchie... This recording should actually be the litmus test for the law of return. Anyone who doesn't cry like a baby when listening to that recording (or while reading the translation) probably doesn't deserve to live here! [I'm only mostly serious about this]

Posted by: David | Jun 6, 2005 6:06:09 PM

Elisson... Another cross-post! My timing must be off today. :-) I think what is so moving about this recording is that we are rarely privileged to witness or eavesdrop on history. Too often we have to read second-hand accounts or view still pictures. This recording allows us to be present at what can only be termed a miracle in our day.

Posted by: David | Jun 6, 2005 6:09:51 PM

That was just amazing. I haven't listened to that in a long time.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 6, 2005 6:16:33 PM

Yeah, but I didn't think it'd make me tear up. Why should it? (and yet...)

Posted by: Tanya | Jun 6, 2005 6:42:26 PM

Wow, that is an amazing link.

I thank IsraCast for making it available.

Not to nitpick, but I heard a few things that I think may be mistranslated on the IsraCast site. And for sure they said "Watch every house. Don't touch anything, especially in the holy places," not "enter every house . . . especially the holy places."

But wow, what an amazing thing. It was recorded 5 years before I was born! What a gift to have that available.

Posted by: Sarah | Jun 6, 2005 7:35:07 PM

I always cry when I hear "Hakotel Hamaaravi b'yadeinu". Thanks for the link of the whole broadcast. My coworkers must think my allergies are really bad today ;)

Posted by: Essie | Jun 6, 2005 8:02:32 PM

David...thanks for this wonderful post! I had never heard this broadcast until this morning when I heard it on the radio (JM in the AM) - I am headed to your link to listen again.

Posted by: Z | Jun 6, 2005 8:41:05 PM

Thank you so much for this post. It made lots of us sit and think for a moment, about what we usually take for granted. I was reading the English translation while listening to the Hebrew and it was so thrilling to "be there"- my eyes got wet, and my sabra husband sitting next to me was moved as well.

This should be required listening for all Israeli schoolchildren.

Posted by: a | Jun 6, 2005 9:02:34 PM

Jack... Like I said, I make it a point to listen to it at least once a year. Some things are worth being reminded of.

Tanya... We are hardwired to tear up we witness wonderful things. It doesn't matter if we're not directly impacted. It just means your heart is in the right place.

Sarah... You are the second person to catch the glaring mistranslation. As to the gift... I think we can safely call it an inheritance.

Essie... Just put the bottle of allergy medicine where everyone can see it and your secret should be safe. :-)

Z. ... I heard it for the first time years ago on Nachum's program. I haven't missed a year since.

a. ... I'm so pleased that so many people have gotten to hear this for the first time. Please feel free to pass the link along.

Posted by: David | Jun 6, 2005 9:18:50 PM

There's another broadcast that's very special: that of the UN partition vote. Years ago I heard a recording of the vote as Miriam Kressyn (a famous Yiddish actress and singer and the wife of crooner Seymour Rechzeit) provided real-time Yiddish translation and commentary at Flushing Meadows. You can hear the excitement mounting in Kressin's voice as she speaks. Here is a link to the recording, a copy of which is at the Freedman Jewish Music Archive at the University of Pennsylvania.

I only understand a few words of Yiddish but that broadcast imprinted itself on my heart the first and only time I heard it more than twenty years ago on WEVD radio in New York.

Posted by: Rahel | Jun 6, 2005 10:01:21 PM

thats amazing... makes me want to be in israel so badly! i just wish i knew hebrew better. oh well ill work on that part. thanks for the amazing exntry, and i agree, take pictures next time! there is little that is more beautiful than jerusalem at night

Posted by: Wildroze | Jun 7, 2005 3:49:02 AM

Very well done. So well, in fact, that I was going to write a post about Jerusalem Day, but instead linked to here.

To think of all the people who lived and died in the two millenia of exile, and I was born about 6 months later. Incredible...

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jun 7, 2005 4:24:04 AM

Oh, and I'm crying. Grown soldiers weeping while the shofar is blown. How can you possibly keep composed?

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jun 7, 2005 6:16:58 AM

It is 9:30 in Los Angeles. I must have listened to that broadcast five or six times. It is not the first time I have heard it. Some of it I have watched in the Follow Me movie about the Six Day war.

But no matter how often it never fails to move me. When I listened to it this morning I got choked up. It is not something that happens often.

Wow is all I can say.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 7, 2005 7:31:25 AM

I am deeply moved by this story of faith and sacrifice. I thank you for sharing it with us.

Posted by: christopher | Jun 7, 2005 7:48:28 AM

Thanks for the translation, My Hebrew sucks! + a slow Internet connection. It’s easy to visualize the whole scenario though.

Posted by: kakarizz | Jun 7, 2005 8:47:20 AM

Rahel... Thanks, that's a great one too.

Wildroze... Plenty of time to learn Hebrew when you're here. In the mean time I'm glad you enjoyed the link.

Doctor Bean... I had no idea you were such a baby(age/tears)! Don't worry, I'm a mess every time I hear that recording.

Jack... Sometimes 'wow' is enough.

Christopher... I still owe you a few. :-)

Kakarizz... It wasn't my translation, and I now realize that there were big gaps and some problems in the translation. All in all it is still helpful to follow along in English.

Posted by: David | Jun 7, 2005 4:44:54 PM

Once apon a time I tried to be all cool and stuff and not get misty of things like this. You know - all very PC, cosmo, and such. But now I am a big mush pot on the 4th of July and to my suprise listening to the recording today. There is something incredibly touching about people fighting and giving so much for a greater cause that really affects me...and I'm not even Jewish. Living in Jerusalem has given me a whole great appreciation for so much of Jewish culture that I was completely unaware of before.

Thanks for this post.

Posted by: John Boy | Jun 7, 2005 9:49:48 PM

I,thank God had the opportunity to celebrate here in YERUSHALAYIM.Your posting of the recording was passed from you around the blogosphere .
My tears clogged up my keyboard.
Thank you.

Posted by: daat y | Jun 8, 2005 2:42:09 AM

that was a beautiful post

Posted by: Faye | Jun 8, 2005 11:05:01 PM

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