Celebrations of 54 years since the liberation of Jerusalem opened with a festive prayer service at the Western Wall Plaza that began with the Prayer for the Welfare of Jerusalem in honor of Jerusalem Day 5781/2021
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Jerusalem municipality, the Office for Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, and the Authority for the Development of Jerusalem held a festive prayer service this evening in honor of 54 years of Jerusalem’s reunification.
The prayer service took place in the presence of Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, and Rabbi David Lau; the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz; the mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Moshe Leon; the minister for religious affairs, Rabbi Yaakov Avitan; the minister for Jerusalem affairs and heritage, Rabbi Rafi Peretz; the director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mr. Mordechai (Suli) Eliav; the director of the office for Jerusalem affairs and heritage, Mr. Avi Cohen; the director of the authority for the development of Jerusalem, Mr. Eyal Chaimovsky, students of pre-military academies from around Israel who ascended to Jerusalem and joined the prayers, and many who joined the live broadcast in Israel and around the world.
As the prayers began, the pre-military academy students unfurled a huge Israeli flag measuring 1,000 square meters – the largest flag ever unfurled in Jerusalem – with the theme of “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad with her, all who love her.” The huge flag symbolizes the Jews of the diaspora who are with us in the live broadcast but who, due to coronavirus restrictions, were not able to come to the Western Wall as in previous years on Jerusalem’s festive day.
The prayers were accompanied by musical artists: Yishai Lapidot, Yitzchak Meir, Chaim Yisrael and the Mafteach Sol choir, who ended the prayers with the moving song “Chamol” of the singer Shragi Gestetner z”l who was killed in the terrible tragedy in Meron.
Rabbi David Lau:
We are blessed and privileged to be able to stand next to the remnant of our Temple, something we were unable to do for 19 years. We can already stand here to pray and ask “and to Jerusalem, Your city, may You return.” With gratitude for the past, we stand here “beyond our wall” and pray that the Creator of the Universe will bless us with peace and serenity, health and joy. May we merit the rebuilding of the Temple speedily, and “may our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy, Amen.”
Rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz:
In the midst of the joy over the liberation of the Western Wall, 54 years ago, people stood right here and recited kaddish over IDF soldiers who fell in battle only a few hours beforehand. The sounds of joy were mingled with the sounds of crying. We, too, prayed tonight for the souls of the deceased, prayed for the recovery of the wounded, and with great joy for the tremendous miracle that occurred in this place and continues to occur every single day. We are grateful for the past and pray for the future.”
Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Moshe Leon:
“Our feet were standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. The built-up Jerusalem is like a city that was joined together within itself.” The city of Jerusalem is marking 54 years since its liberation. From here, from the reunified Jerusalem, we pray for the recovery of those wounded on Mount Meron and for the memory of those killed in the terrible tragedy. In front of the stones of the Western Wall, the remnant of our Temple, we pray for the success of the city and its residents. Happy Jerusalem Day!
Minister for Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, Rabbi Rafi Peretz:
Every year, we begin Jerusalem Day with prayer. Prayer for the welfare of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation. How moving it is to take part in this traditional prayer as the minister for Jerusalem affairs and heritage, responsible for the residents of this incredible city in the name of the government. What a tremendous privilege.”