We are a grass roots organization located in both Israel and the United States. Our intention is to be pro-active on behalf of Israel. This means we will identify the topics that need examination, analysis and promotion. Our intention is to write accurately what is going on here in Israel rather than react to the anti-Israel media pieces that comprise most of today's media outlets.
In the spirit of Yom Yerushalayim, I would like to share with
you a remarkable sermon which I have just come across which was
delivered by my father in law, Rabbi Israel Porush z”l,* at the Great
Synagogue in Sydney, one year after the Six Day War. The main message is
as relevant today as it was then.
'.... Israel stood alone in that hour of crisis, surrounded by a
ring of modern armour of terrible deadliness, and beleaguered by the
armies of seven nations who were united in the hate of Israel and in
their sinister plot to destroy it. The rest of the world played
cynically a waiting game. Is it surprising that we view with a measure
of cynicism the advice given us by our friends now?
And what of Churches? Not a word of comfort in the hour of
danger, not a sound of condemnation of the threats to our existence. The
so-called ecumenical spirit, or the so-called dialogue between Church
and Synagogue, which was promoted in some quarters, especially in the
United States, has suffered a setback from which it will not so easily
Did I say Israel stood alone? Israel never stands alone. “The
Guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps”. And the people of Israel
in all their dispersion were roused as never before in prayer and in
action and stood united by the side of Medinat [the State of] Israel.
..The Jewish citizen-soldier knew what the stakes were, and he
was ready for every sacrifice. And many hundreds of the cream of Israeli
youth paid the supreme sacrifice upon the altar of Jewish survival ….
….[We] offer thanksgiving to the Almighty for the wonderful
delivery of Israel from danger and fear, for the retreat of the enemy
beyond wider and safer frontiers, and for the transformation that has
taken place in the whole security situation of Medinat Israel ….
But who can be unaware that our deepest emotions and our
profoundest sensitivity revolve around the liberation of Jerusalem,
which has been restored to its rightful owners after nineteen centuries
of dispossession? ….
Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) is a magic word for the Jew. It is
pronounced in awe. It conjures up associations and feelings in our ears
that no other word does, and that no other nation or religion can
remotely experience. To us, Yerushalayim personifies the presence of God
in our midst, the Schechinah. It is the soul of our people. It is the
national and religious centre of all Israel, whether in its glory or in
its ruin. Jerusalem is eternal; it can never die or be destroyed.
Wherever the Jew settles in the four corners of the earth, Jerusalem is
alive in his heart and near to his life.
Jerusalem is mentioned 630 times in the Bible, as the city of
God, the Capital of the Nation, the seat of the Temple, the centre of
piety and learning, and also as the emblem of the Kingdom of God that
will ultimately rule on earth.
When the captives of Judea sat by the rivers of Babylon weeping
over their humiliation, and their captors invited them to sing one of
the songs of Zion, they replied: "How can we sing the song of the Lord
in a profane land?” and they swore, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let
my right hand forget her cunning; let my tongue cleave to the roof of my
mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest
Throughout the 1,900 years of exile there was never a time, with
the possible exception of two brief periods, when Jews did not live in
Jerusalem, at times facing great peril, at times massacred by fanatics.
Our prayers were always directed towards Jerusalem. Already
Daniel, we are told, recited his three daily services with his face
towards Jerusalem, and so have done all Jews in the Synagogue to this
day. There is not a service, there is not a Simchah [celebration], there
is not a meal, when we do not remember Jerusalem and pray for its
restoration. And when we sit in mourning over its destruction, we mingle
sorrow with hope, and grief with glorification, and lament with pledges
of eternal loyalty to Zion, as is reflected in the moving Ode of Judah
“Thou art the house of royalty, thou art the throne of the Lord
…. O, who will make me wings, that I may fly afar and lay the ruins of
my cleft heart among thy broken cliffs … Happy is he that waiteth, that
cometh nigh and seeth the rising of the light, when on him thy dawn
shall break – that he may see the welfare of thy chosen, and rejoice in
the rejoicing when thou turnest back unto thine olden youth.”
…. Jerusalem is the physical capital of the nation and at the
same time the spiritual centre of all Israel wherever they live.
…. Yerushalayim is the emblem of the eternity of Israel as the
people of God. We would indeed betray our raison d’être and our mission
among men if we were to think of Yerushalayim in secular or political
Jerusalem must return to its old destiny as “Ir Shalem”, which
means on the one hand “The City of Peace”, but also on the other “The
City of Completion, or Unity”. It is unthinkable that the unity between
the people of Israel and its spiritual cradle will ever be allowed to be
The attachment of a people for 3,000 years as intense as that of
the Jews to Yerushalayim cannot be set aside by international decree.
None need be afraid that the Jews would deal ungenerously or
restrictively with the Holy places and legitimate interests of other
religions and communities. We have proved that already.
…. Our Rabbis also speak of Yerushalayim as the “metropolis of
the world”. There is undoubtedly also a universal facet in the image of
Jerusalem, embracing the whole of humanity, and that goes back 2,500
years, to the days of our prophets who prophesied in the name of God
that the messianic order on earth would begin with the restoration of
Jerusalem, and that Jerusalem would become then the fountainhead of a
new mode of living which would lead the world out of the morass of
strife, hate and division towards brotherhood, righteousness and peace:
And many people shall go and say: "Come ye, and let us go up to
the Mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will
teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall
go forth the Law and the word of the Law from Jerusalem. And he shall
judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they
shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning
hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they
learn war any more.”
Jerusalem is more relevant to the ultimate salvation of humanity
than Athens and Rome because it taught the world the supremacy of
righteousness, brotherhood, and charity. And even if the complete
fulfillment of this ideal state of affairs would have to wait for the
fullness of time, the inspiration of this vision could stimulate now the
troubled peoples of the earth towards a more just and peaceful order of
In our immediate context we could in our imagination envisage a
Middle East in which goodwill, mutual respect and harmony would prevail
between the Jews and the Arab nations, initiating an era of peace and
prosperity that would be a blessing to all. We know that this is the
constant aspiration and the constant yearning of the Yishuv, and that
Israel’s search for peace comes not only from practical considerations,
but also from deep-seated convictions – the emblem of the Israeli Army
is characteristically a sword wreathed in an olive branch – and from the
unshaken trust in the teachings of our prophets and the ideals of our
*Rabbi Porush (1907-1991) was a fifth generation
Jerusalemite. His father was the first administrator of the Shaarei
Zedek Hospital. Rabbi Porush received his smicha (Rabbinical ordination)
at the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin and also obtained a
PhD in Mathematics. He was Minister at Finchley Synagogue in London
before taking up his post as Rabbi of Sydney’s Great Synagogue
(1948-1975) where he also served as the head of Beth Din.
This column was published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom