In 2010, Yom Yerushalayim falls on May 11, 2010. It is the most recent addition to the Hebrew calendar and is celebrated on the 28th day of Iyar (six weeks after the Passover seder, one week before the eve of Shavuot). Although Jerusalem has been considered the capital city of the Jewish people since the time of King David--who conquered it and built it as the seat of his monarchy in approximately 1000 B.C.E. - there has never been a special day in honor of the city until the Israeli army took over the ancient, eastern part of the city on the third day of the Six-Day War in June 1967.
Due to the young age of this holiday, there is still not much which makes it unique in terms of customs and traditions. It is gradually becoming a "pilgrimage" day, when thousands of Israelis travel (some hike!) to Jerusalem to demonstrate solidarity with the city. This show of solidarity is of special importance to the state of Israel, since the international community has never approved the "reunification" of the city under Israeli sovereignty, and many countries have not recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State (The United Nations "partition plan" of November 1947 assigned a status of "International City" to Jerusalem).
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has decided that this day should also be marked with the recital of Hallel (psalms of praise), and with the lengthier version of Psukei d'Zimra (the psalms in the earlier part of the morning service). It is quite clear that ultra-Orthodox Jews, in Israel and abroad, have not accepted Yom Yerushalayim, but it is not clear how many Orthodox Jews chant the Hallel psalms on this day.
Israel's Progressive (Reform) prayerbook notes that Hallel should be recited on Yom Yerushalayim, but not so the Masorti (Conservative) prayerbook, which does suggest a list of supplemental readings for this day. The American Conservative siddur, Sim Shalom, mentions that Hallel is recited "in some congregations" on Yom Yerushalayim.
The ambiguity of the religious status of this holiday is reflected in celebrations--or lack thereof-- outside of Israel. While the city of Jerusalem has significant meaning for all Jews, Yom Yerushalayim has yet to obtain the popularity of Yom Ha'atzmaut and is not observed extensively outside of Israel.
A common citation in Yom Yerushalayim celebrations in Israel is the quote (Psalm 122:4) Ir shehubrah lah yahdaiv-- "a city that is compact together" or "a city uniting all." (This translation is probably influenced by a rabbinic midrash on this verse which interpreted the phrase to reflect events in rabbinic times. In using the citation today, a modern midrash has been built on the rabbinic interpretation.)
May we all be united together and may the Holy One spread peace throughout the land of Israel and the diaspora.
by Linda Blatchford