On Sunday, June 5th, the Los Angeles Jewish community celebrated Yom Yerushalayim with a special event, organized by the Religious Zionists of Los Angeles (RZLA). Yom Yerushalayim is the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 during the Six-Day War, when the Israeli forces took over the Old City. It is celebrated in the Religious Zionist community as a holiday.
RZLA, part of the world-wide Mizrachi movement, aims to reawaken the longing of the Diaspora Jews for Eretz Yisrael and to promote the Religious Zionist value of Torah in the land. This year, the new presidents of RZLA, Dr. Yakov Agatstein and Yitzy Katz, decided to involve the broader community in the celebration. “Our goal is to reenergize the diaspora Jews,” says Dr. Agatstein. “In 1967, a whole generation witnessed miracles and got inspired. But we didn’t witness them. We’d like to bring the inspiration back and make it part of the future.”
The weekend of Yom Yerushalayim, the RZLA held a community-wide shabbaton with five guest speakers from Israel – Rabbi Doron Perez, Director General of the Mizrachi World Movement; Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, Director of Global Development for The Mizrachi World; Mrs. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, an attorney leading the fight against terrorism in the courtroom; Rabbi Yishai Fleisher, International Spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron; and Rabbi Mike Feuer, Educational Director of Bet Midrash Sulam Yaakov and a faculty member of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. On Friday, the guests spoke in several schools, and during the shabbaton they spoke at local shuls.
On Sunday, the Yom Yerushalyim event at Beth Jacob Congregation drew over 500 people. The shul held festive prayer services, with Hallel, singing, and dancing. Then the attendees watched an inspirational video about the miracles that took place in 1967. After the event, people spoke about how the event touched them, and many offered to help with future events.
Next year, for the 50th anniversary of Yom Yerushalayim, RZLA is hoping to send a delegation from Los Angeles to celebrate in Jerusalem.