Thursday, May 13, 2010

O Jerusalem

O Jerusalem
Another Tablet Magazine article worth reading. We might prefer to believe in the mythic Jerusalem over the earthly, but Zionism means that we must face the reality.  We can no longer live in an idealized Jerusalem.  We must come to terms with how apart Jerusalem stands from the rest of Israel.  As much as I love Jerusalem, the reality is not nearly as perfect. Liel Leibovitz writes:
One, of course, may disagree that a capital must, or can, represent its nation. We may argue whether or not Washington, D.C., say, embodies the United States, or what is quintessentially Dutch about The Hague. But Jerusalem has always been special: While it is an earthly city, it is, unlike most of the world’s capitals, also a theological concept, the sum of all the Jewish people’s yearnings and beliefs. When Israeli paratroopers reunified the city 43 years ago, many, like Kollek, believed that now, finally, heaven and earth would move a little bit nearer together and that the actual city would come as close as any actual city can to resembling the idyll Jews have been praying for. Now, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that the opposite is true: Jerusalem represents a narrow portion of the Jewish population, highlighting the conflicts and the differences that plague Israel, never further from heaven.
So, it’s Teddy Kollek’s Jerusalem—a Jerusalem I never knew—I commemorated on Yom Yerushalayim this year. By the time I was old enough to learn to appreciate the city, Ehud Olmert and his ultra-Orthodox associates were already in power, and the secular exodus from Jerusalem had begun in full force. But like the many Jews who pine not for the earthly city of Jerusalem but for Jerusalem that’s in our prayers and in our minds and in our hearts, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, I, too, yearn. One day, I pray, Jews will once again return to Jerusalem and rebuild it, Jews who have faith in the ancient traditions but also in the promise of a better future, Jews who feel as comfortable with Twitter as they do with their tefillin, Jews who are confident enough in their birthright to treat others with dignity and respect. If they ever come back to Jerusalem, these Jews will make it the city Teddy Kollek fought for, both particularly Jewish and truly international, a city, in other words, I would very much love.

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