WEDNESDAY, MAY 8: Thousands of Israeli flags wave high through the streets of Jerusalem today—many as part of the annual Flag Parade—as Jews in the Old City mark Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). Historically, Jews recall the reunification of Jerusalem and the institution of Israeli control over the Old City, in 1967; religiously, Jews thank G_d for answering their millennia-old plea of, “Next year in Jeruslaem” and rejoice for their ability to, once again, pray at the Western Wall. (Learn more about the Jewish flag in this piece from the Jewish Press.)
Contrary to the popularity of Israel’s national day, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Yerushalayim is rarely commemorated by those outside of Israel; some liberal Jews even find the holiday disconcerting, due to the continuing conflicts over the Old City. In Jerusalem, however, special prayers are recited in every synagogue; schoolchildren learn the significance of the Old City; state ceremonies are conducted and Jews sing and dance in the streets. (Aish.com has related stories and more.) Today, Jews across Israel hike, bike and drive to Jerusalem, visually declaring their solidarity with the Old City.