Heart of the Nation
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Heart of  the Nation

Heart of the Nation

At the mass rally on January 8 in Jerusalem, the most powerful words came from Avital Sharansky, who'd led an international struggle for the release of her husband, Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky.

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Jerusalem -- together with the Temple Mount and the Western Wall -- was not all that was liberated during the Six Day War. Also liberated was the spirit of that part of the people of Israel that was caught behind the Iron Wall of the Soviet Union.

During the Six Day War, this spirit was revived and came to life, like a sleeping giant awakening from his slumber. For the first time, we -- millions of Jews who had been distanced from their land and their legacy -- felt our Jewish identity. We felt Jewish brotherhood, we felt Jewish pride. We dreamt of a return to Zion, of our return home.

This dream drew tens of thousands and millions back to the Land of Yisrael, out of a feeling of great uplifting faith. This belief is that which, in the end, knocked the Iron Wall to the ground, and broke an international superpower into tiny pieces.

Sylva Zalmanson, during her trial in Soviet Russia, read aloud to the judges the verse, "If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither." My husband Natan, at the end of his trial there, when he was in genuine danger to his life, declared in unforgettable words, "Next year in Jerusalem." We always knew that the liberty of the Jewish people and that of Jerusalem are one and the same.

What is the connection between Jerusalem and world Jewry? What power does this city have to arouse the entire House of Israel to new life?

Jerusalem has forever been the heart of the nation. When the heart is healthy and strong, it streams life to the entire body, even to the distant organs. "God is the builder of Jerusalem, He will gather all the dispersed of Israel," is written in Psalms.

When Israel liberated Jerusalem with God's help, vitality was restored to every corner of the Jewish nation. The flow of Jewish oxygen was renewed to Jewish communities in the Diaspora, to Jews in Moscow and Siberia, in New York and Melbourne. The Jews of America, of Russia, of the entire world now live more complete Jewish lives, and their Jewish awareness is much stronger. All this in the merit of Jerusalem -- the heart of the nation, the heart that after 2,000 years of exile is now beating strongly once again.

As we declared a generation ago, let us announce once again all of us together here today: Am Yisrael Chai -- "the People of Israel lives!" A live nation does not allow anyone to harm his heart!

Jerusalem: Thirty years ago, you restored to us our national Jewish identity and awareness. You gave us a gift. Today, 30 years later, we, appreciative of this kindness, gather in the shadow of your walls to assure you: "We have not forgotten. You have not abandoned us, and we will not abandon you."

When we worked for the freedom of our imprisoned brothers in the Soviet Union, we felt that we were the mouthpiece of hundreds of thousands who could not, or who were afraid to, speak out. Today, too, there were people who wanted to speak out -- but were afraid. Jerusalem was defined by some as a "political" issue. To our great disappointment, there were those who surrendered and retreated.

But, "For Zion I will not be mute, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be silent." Just like 30 years ago, today too we are willing to be a voice for the Jewry of Silence -- for all those who wished to be here but were not allowed to, or who did not find within themselves the courage to come. We speak for them, and through us their voices, too, will be heard.

Honored audience: You are expressing the silent cries of millions of Jews in the diaspora who were unable to be here tonight. Of millions of Jews in previous generations -- our fathers and mothers -- who dreamed of Jerusalem, but did not merit to fulfill the dream. Of millions of Jews -- our children and grandchildren -- who have not yet been born. I close my eyes and see with us in this rally -- filling the plaza without an extra inch of room -- all the generations of Israel. Here is Abraham, there is Sarah, here is David, King of Israel.

We will not retreat. We will not be deterred. We will build Jerusalem -- all of it, and we will be built -- all of us, in Jerusalem.

Next year, and the year afterwards, and after that, and after that -- in Jerusalem, forever rebuilt!

(translation courtesy of Eyewitness - Middle East)

Published: December 31, 1969


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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Carrie, May 8, 2013 10:30 PM

Faith

I have known a few people in my life. Who have had ,whatever their religion, true belief, faith call it what you will. It's a joy to see. I no longer subscribe to ORGANISED religion. I so do admire those that do! If this video says nothing else. It says " I'm Jewish"and it's my faith!!!! BIG HUGS X

(1) M R, December 19, 2003 12:00 AM

Absolute reality

Avital is one of the greatest heroes of Jewish history and as one who heard her speak that evening, I know how her words penetrated the bones of every Jew there. She spoke for all of us.

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