Tazpit News Agency Staff
In light of Jerusalem Day, Tazpit News Agency interviewed tourists and residents in the Old City of Jerusalem to hear what the city means to them. Jerusalem Day or Yom Yerushalayim in Hebrew marks the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and will be celebrated this year on May 8.
It is important to note the historical background of the city.
During Jordanian rule, Jews were denied access to the Old City and Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall and Temple Mount, while Christians were granted only limited access. The Jordanians expelled all the Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City and destroyed 58 synagogues and yeshivas. On the Mount of Olives, 38,000 Jewish tombstones were destroyed with some used to build fences and floor latrines as well as to pave roads for the Jordanian army.
Although for three millennia Jerusalem remained the center of Jewish faith from the time of King David, it was not until the Six Day War that the city for the first time in two thousand years had come under Jewish sovereignty. The Israeli government mandated in 1967 that everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, had the right to visit all holy places within Israel.
Tazpit News Agency interviewed visitors from all across the world visiting in the Old City, including England, Denmark, Argentina, Austria as well as Israeli residents themselves.
“Jerusalem really gets into your soul,” said one visitor from England.
For others, Jerusalem left them speechless. “I have no words,” said a woman from Denmark. “It’s holy and beautiful,” an Austrian couple stated. “It is the backbone of all our history,” said a traveler from Germany.
“I came from Tel Aviv only to walk on the streets – it is so beautiful” explains Simcha, an elderly man from Tel Aviv.
For still others, like the local street cleaner that Tazpit News Agency caught up with near the Hurva Synagogue, Jerusalem is the cleanest city in the world.
Simply put, Jerusalem is a city for everyone. “Jerusalem doesn’t care who you are or what your religion or culture is,” said a local Israeli tour guide. “Everybody can enjoy themselves here.”
Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency reporter, conducted the interviews.