Has there ever been a more contentious time in Jerusalem than now? Or is that a joke? It has always been the most contentious time in Jerusalem: invaders, occupants, takeovers, fences, walls, barbed wire, combat, fire, and more are in the earthly history of Jerusalem.
Yet now, while we hope and pray there is never again a shooting war in Jerusalem, is a particularly contentious time where the future of Jerusalem as an earthly and spiritual city, as well as the capital(s?) of state(s?) is under heated discussion. It seems that every apartment built, every synagogue reopened, every road/street repair causes someone to get agitated, from the President of the United States to the lowliest local resident. I do not mean to equate all of these concerns; some are clearly more serious on a global, political, and spiritual basis than others. But it does make for lively discussion when the city’s Mayor is snubbed by the White House and the Interior Minister is invited.
Herein, then, in advance of this year’s Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day – May 12, 2010) are several articles and essays by Hartman Institute scholars on this city of many faiths, many constituents, and residents:
A set of surprising suggestions and recommendations for how to address perhaps the most argued over spot on Earth: the Temple Mount/Har Habayit/Haram Ash-Sharif/Mount Moriah/Noble Sanctuary from Hartman Institute’s Menachem Fisch, Israel Knohl, and Elhanan Reiner.
Professor Israel Knohl relates to the partial fulfillment of Yeshayahu’s vision; Professor Elhanan Reiner explains the idea behind aliyah le’regel; and Professor Menachem Fisch explains that the holiness of place is not connected to ownership.
Jerusalem must be a divided city – divided among all aspects and ideologies of Israeli society, for only as a divided city can it be united as the capital of all Israelis. Jerusalem must be a safe city – safe for all expressions of Jewishness.
Jerusalem will achieve this only when we recognize that the city is no one’s unless it is all of ours, and when there is a new spirit in which we all actively pursue public policies that give room and respect for us all, not only our personal agendas.
Jerusalem is not just the place where we convene; it is the place that enables the convention. It is in this capacity that I experienced the holiness of Jerusalem, a holiness which fosters respect, loyalty, and mutual consideration. May this be the Jerusalem we all get to experience, for this is when Jerusalem is truly a city of gold.
Forty one years after the reunification of the city’s east and west, it is time to unify heavenly Jerusalem and earthly Jerusalem. We must temper our veneration with criticism, and our criticism with veneration, neither glorifying the city so much we cannot see her flaws, nor deploring her so much we have no desire to correct them. Only once we stop loving Jerusalem from afar, once we eradicate the barriers of idealized images and disappointed dreams, will the 2,000-year exile from the city really come to an end. Only then will Jerusalem become our home.