I’ve never been so happy to do my laundry. I was sitting in the laundry room today, which looks over highway 60 and Efrat, and suddenly saw an army jeep. The road was completely empty of cars. It could only mean one thing – there was a problem on the road and the jeep was trying to take care of it. Then, suddenly, I saw a slew of bike riders with Israeli flags attached to the backs of their bikes. The flags were waving in the wind and they were biking by with glee. The bikers kept coming and coming and coming. I stood there, wiping tears from my eyes and being grateful that I happened to be doing laundry just then.
Today is Yom Yerushalayim – the day when we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. 40 years ago today our army was fighting for the country’s survival, again, in the 6 Day War. 40 years ago today we re-entered the Old City, prayed at the Kotel (the Western Wall) and rejoiced in the streets. After so many years away from our beloved city, we had gained access to our holiest sites once again and could take care of them as they need to be cared for. 40 years ago today, we were also reunited with the Judean Hills where we live and where I was doing my laundry just then. On these very same roads, Jews had died in 1948 trying to bring supplies to the trapped and desperate heroes of Gush Etzion who were struggling to save Gush Etzion and Jerusalem. In 1967, we reclaimed this land, where I am proud to raise my family.
I felt a similar way only one other time, watching Israeli flags wave in the wind with pride. This was when I was at Auschwitz and saw a huge group of Israeli school children walking draped in flags. With their bodies and their flags they were yelling “I’m here! You didn’t win! You tried – Hitler – but I’m still standing and I’ve come here to tell you that there is a State of Israel and we aren’t giving in.” I look out on the hills of Yehuda and I can’t believe that I have the privilege to watch my fellow Israeli citizens enjoy a bike ride on a road that has served as the path to Jerusalem for two millenium. What a country and what a day!