Jerusalem is the gift and the curse of the Jewish people


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The Old City of Jerusalem is both magical and cursed. He is filled with so much hope, but so much suffering. The Jewish people had waited thousands of years to walk these streets again, just to be near a Shechinah square.

Our people have gone through ups and downs, we have built a kingdom in the Holy Land and we have witnessed its destruction. After the destruction, we were scattered all over the world, where we were humiliated, driven out and slaughtered.

In fact, what held us back and connected was these few hundred square meters, where recently Jews were murdered again.

I remember almost all of them by name. Eliyahu Amedi was killed on Shabbat in 1986. As a child, I remember rumors of his death reaching the Jewish quarter where we lived. We rushed to the only place where you could get the latest news even on Shabbat – the Western Wall.

The place was packed, tensions were in the air, and sirens were ringing all around us, breaking the silence of Shabbat in the religious quarter of Jerusalem. Then all of a sudden, handcuffed and wearing only underwear, Eliyahu’s killers were brought to the Western Wall Square. It was so absurd and unthinkable to see murderers in their underwear in the holiest place in the world.

A year later, Yigal Shachaf was assassinated – also on Shabbat. I remember the adults speaking after Mincha – the afternoon prayer – and saying “a Jew was shot”.

Three and a half years later, on February 28, 1991, my brother Elhanan Atali was on his way to a Yeshiva where he studied, but he never made it, having been stabbed and killed in the same cursed streets.

After him, other Jews were murdered in these alleys: Gabriel Hirschberg, Chaim Kerman, Nehemia Lavi, Aaron Bennet and Adiel Coleman. My family knew most of them. They all had one thing in common: an unconditional love for Jerusalem.

We don’t like this city as we like a “normal” city, there is something else that is difficult to express. A link between historical awareness, tradition and the belief that this place is the heart of the Jewish people.

You don’t like this city like you like a normal city, there is something else that is difficult to express. A link between historical awareness, tradition and the belief that this place is the heart of the Jewish people.

Apparently love for Jerusalem is also what characterizes Eliyahu David Kay, who was gunned down earlier this week by a Palestinian attacker in the Old City. He also dreamed of Jerusalem, he made his aliya from South Africa alone, joined the IDF’s elite combat unit and, after his release from the army, became a tour guide to the Western Wall.

The difference between the murdered and the murderers is that they wanted Jerusalem to prosper so that all of its inhabitants would benefit, not just the Jews. We came here under our right to live, as they sanctify death.

I received a link to the Facebook account of Aboud Abu Shkhaydam, son of Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, who murdered Eliyahu Kay.

The difference between us and them is that as soon as the murder committed by his father became public, instead of being ashamed or crying, son Aboud simply replaced the profile picture with a picture of him and his father and announced how proud he was that his father is now a martyr.

Suddenly, hundreds of people commented on the photo, congratulating him on the privilege of being the son of a jihadist.

However, the resilience and will to live of the Jewish people fill me with hope. Despite the pain, the light will dispel the darkness and the good will overcome the evil.

It is incomprehensible that people for whom the greatest honor is to commit the murder of innocent people can defeat those who only seek to do good. The road can be long and exhausting, but I’m sure there is a light at the end.

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