Dear Aish Family,
Week in and week out I spend time writing about some aspect of Aish or the Jewish people. I generally steer clear of politics because at Aish HaTorah we are focused on the growth of one’s soul regardless of political affiliation. This week I feel the need to make an acceptation to that rule and share with you my feelings on the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the United States.
Aish HaTorah physically sits in a very strategic and important spot in Jerusalem. For two thousand years, Jews would make their way to pray at the Kotel (Westen Wall) which was the last remnant of the Beis HaMikdash (Jewish Temple). Suddenly in 1948 at the end of the War for Independence, the Jews were expelled from the Old City of Jerusalem and could not visit the Kotel.
For that period of time, any Jew found in the Old City of Jerusalem would be killed. It took nineteen years for the Jews to return to the Kotel when Israel won the Six Day War. At that point, the Old City of Jerusalem became “occupied territory” by Israel. A place where Jews had lived for over 2000 years, with only a gap of nineteen years due to the fact that we were physically thrown out under the penalty of death, had suddenly historically become not ours.
To say that this policy was ludicrous is an understatement. Jerusalem has been the eternal capital and the heart of the Jewish people for 3000 years going back to Abraham. To accuse us of being occupiers was clearly a form of revisionist history.
Soon after the six-day war Rav Noach Weinberg ZT”L came to the Old City of Jerusalem with a dream. He established Aish HaTorah as a place to study Jewish wisdom for Jews with little to no Judaic background. We chose this spot due to the fact that it was the destination of Jews from all around the world who came searching for a spot close to the Almighty.
In the forty years that we have opened our doors, we have built an institution where Jews of all walks of life can come and find inspiration. One can gaze from our rooftop on the Aish HaTorah Dan Family World Center and see the spot where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob came to pray three thousand years ago. Truly inspirational.
To have the President of the United States finally state with certainty and finality that the policy of the US would be to officially recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish nation was moving to say the least. It meant that the fiction which has been circulated for fifty years, that Jews were occupiers of Jerusalem, was finally publicly being called for the terrible lie that it was. The US should be congratulated for having the courage to state the truth.
This does not mean that we do not desire peace with our neighbors. At Aish, we employ quite a few Arabs and I have gotten to know them very well over the years. They are good people. As Jews, we desire nothing more than to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors. Unfortunately, peace will only come when terror ceases to be a tool used to hurt and scare Jews. At Aish, we know this all too well as we lost one of our dear Rabbis two years ago to a terrorist’s knife.
To say that recognizing the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people will be the root cause of violence is false. Terror comes when bullies try to impose extremist views on the rest of the world. I pray every day for peace to come to Israel. I pray every day for a cessation of terror threats against Jews around the world. I now give thanks to the Almighty for the courage of the United States of America in articulating the truth that Jerusalem always has been and always will be the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
Best wishes for a warm and uplifting Chanukah and good shabbos!