Years ago, on one of my trips to Israel, I found myself bumping into one familiar face after another as I walked in Jerusalem. It was in the days before Facebook, but I realized at the time that in terms of Jewish geography, Jerusalem was the ultimate social media site. If you haven’t seen someone for a long time and want to reconnect, go to Ben Yehuda Street, or Emek Refaim, and you’re likely to bump into that person!
Perhaps this seems like an exaggeration, but it’s actually one of the intended meanings of Jerusalem, the capital of the country of Israel and indeed of the People Israel. The symbolic value of Jerusalem as the meeting place of all Jews is evident in Biblical passages, in the rabbinic tradition, and even in modern Israeli literature. Already in the Torah, we are told that on three annual occasions, all of Israel is to ascend to Jerusalem. Of course, they had financial and ritual obligations to meet in the sanctuary; but we have to imagine that the Pilgrimage Festivals were quite the social scene as well!
The other night, we looked at the Jerusalem of Peoplehood in our Hartman Institute iEngage class. As the teacher, I encountered sources I knew well, and actually found myself astonished by other sources that I only thought I knew well. On Shabbat morning, one day before the celebration of Yom Yerushalayim, we’ll look at this material together. We’ll talk about what Jerusalem means to us, and what can be done to enhance its status as the place that serves as the epicenter of our real and mythical ingathering of the exiles.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and Hag Yerushalayim Sameah,
Rabbi David Wise