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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Yom Yerushalayim tradition

[This is the third year I'm posting this.  Sorry, but I can't improve on the original.  Go ahead and try not to cry... I dare you!]

It's Yom Yerushalayim today... the anniversary of Jerusalem being reunified during the Six Day War.

Every year on this day, no matter where I am, I find a way to listen to the recording of the radio broadcast of the recapture of the old city by Col. 'Motta' Gur's Paratroop forces. 

Yossi Ronen was the news broadcaster reporting the event.  Rav Shlomo Goren, who was the Chief Rabbi of the IDF at the time (and also held the rank of General, having served as a soldier in the Haganah - Israel's pre-state army), joined the Paratroopers at the Kotel HaMa'aravi (Western Wall) and led them in prayer.  Colonel 'Motta' Gur was the Military commander of the forces that recaptured the old city.

This a pretty fair translation that was done by IsraCast*.  I strongly recommend that those who understand Hebrew go to their site and click the yellow link (about a third of the way down the page in the middle) and listen to the recording.  It might help to read along with the translation as the sound quality is sketchy.

To properly appreciate this you need to imagine being somewhere in Israel at the time, listening to this broadcast over your radio at home (perhaps in a bomb shelter)... or wherever your reserve unit was stationed at that moment.  Go get the tissues before you start listening!

Colonel Motta Gur [on loudspeaker]: All company commanders, we’re sitting right now on the ridge and we’re seeing the Old City. Shortly we’re going to go in to the Old City of Jerusalem, that all generations have dreamed about. We will be the first to enter the Old City. Eitan’s tanks will advance on the left and will enter the Lion’s Gate. The final rendezvous will be on the open square above.
[The open square of the Temple Mount.]

[Sound of applause by the soldiers.]

Yossi Ronen: We are now walking on one of the main streets of Jerusalem towards the Old City. The head of the force is about to enter the Old City.


Yossi Ronen: There is still shooting from all directions; we’re advancing towards the entrance of the Old City.

[Sound of gunfire and soldiers’ footsteps.]

[Yelling of commands to soldiers.]

[More soldiers’ footsteps.]

The soldiers are keeping a distance of approximately 5 meters between them. It’s still dangerous to walk around here; there is still sniper shooting here and there.


We’re all told to stop; we’re advancing towards the mountainside; on our left is the Mount of Olives; we’re now in the Old City opposite the Russian church. I’m right now lowering my head; we’re running next to the mountainside. We can see the stone walls. They’re still shooting at us. The Israeli tanks are at the entrance to the Old City, and ahead we go, through the Lion’s Gate. I’m with the first unit to break through into the Old City. There is a Jordanian bus next to me, totally burnt; it is very hot here. We’re about to enter the Old City itself. We’re standing below the Lion’s Gate, the Gate is about to come crashing down, probably because of the previous shelling. Soldiers are taking cover next to the palm trees; I’m also staying close to one of the trees. We’re getting further and further into the City.


Colonel Motta Gur announces on the army wireless: The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!

All forces, stop firing! This is the David Operations Room. All forces, stop firing! I repeat, all forces, stop firing! Over.

Commander eight-nine here, is this Motta (Gur) talking? Over.

[Inaudible response on the army wireless by Motta Gur.]

Uzi Narkiss: Motta, there isn’t anybody like you. You’re next to the Mosque of Omar.

Yossi Ronen: I’m driving fast through the Lion’s Gate all the way inside the Old City.

Command on the army wireless: Search the area, destroy all pockets of resistance [but don't touch anything in the houses], especially the holy places.

[Lt.- Col. Uzi Eilam blows the Shofar.  Soldiers are singing ‘Jerusalem of Gold’.]

Uzi Narkiss: Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?

Yossi Ronen: I’m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. I’m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and I’m touching the stones of the Western Wall.

Soldiers: [reciting the ‘Shehechianu’ blessing]: Baruch ata Hashem, elokeinu melech haolam, she-hechianu ve-kiemanu ve-hegianu la-zman ha-zeh. [Translation: Blessed art Thou L-rd G-d King of the Universe who has sustained us and kept us and has brought us to this day]

Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Baruch ata Hashem, menachem tsion u-voneh Yerushalayim. [Translation: Blessed are thou, who comforts Zion and bulids Jerusalem]

Soldiers: Amen!

[Soldiers sing ‘Hatikva’ next to the Western Wall.]

Rabbi Goren: We’re now going to recite the prayer for the fallen soldiers of this war against all of the enemies of Israel:

[Soldiers weeping]

El male rahamim, shohen ba-meromim. Hamtse menuha nahona al kanfei hashina, be-maalot kedoshim, giborim ve-tehorim, kezohar harakiya meirim u-mazhirim. Ve-nishmot halalei tsava hagana le-yisrael, she-naflu be-maaraha zot, neged oievei yisrael, ve-shnaflu al kedushat Hashem ha-am ve-ha’arets, ve-shichrur Beit Hamikdash, Har Habayit, Hakotel ha-ma’aravi veyerushalayim ir ha-elokim. Be-gan eden tehe menuhatam. Lahen ba’al ha-rahamim, yastirem beseter knafav le-olamim. Ve-yitsror be-tsror ha-hayim et nishmatam adoshem hu nahlatam, ve-yanuhu be-shalom al mishkavam [soldiers weeping loud]ve-ya’amdu le-goralam le-kets ha-yamim ve-nomar amen!

[Translation: Merciful G-d in heaven, may the heroes and the pure, be under thy Divine wings, among the holy and the pure who shine bright as the sky, and the souls of soldiers of the Israeli army who fell in this war against the enemies of Israel, who fell for their loyalty to G-d and the land of Israel, who fell for the liberation of the Temple, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Jerusalem the city of the Lord. May their place of rest be in paradise. Merciful One, O keep their souls forever alive under Thy protective wings. The Lord being their heritage, may they rest in peace, for they shalt rest and stand up for their allotted portion at the end of the days, and let us say, Amen.]

[Soldiers are weeping. Rabbi Goren sounds the shofar.  Sound of gunfire in the background.]

Rabbi Goren: Le-shana HA-ZOT be-Yerushalayim ha-b’nuya, be-yerushalayim ha-atika! [Translation: This year in a rebuilt Jerusalem! In the Jerusalem of old!] *

We should never forget or take for granted the sacrifices that were made so that we could have our city back under Jewish Control after 2000 years!  It makes me sad to think about how many people would re-divide Jerusalem again in a second on the off chance that it might buy us a few weeks of a shaky 'truce'.

How soon they forget.

BTW, if you feel like taking a virtual tour of Jerusalem via full screen 360-degree panoramic photos from the comfort of wherever you're sitting... go here and click on some of the incredible views. (thanks Michelle).

Reminder:  Today is the last chance to vote in the JIBs if you haven't already done so.  You guys have really come through for me... but we're still trailing in one category.  If you haven't cast a vote in the finals, go do your civic duty!  :-)

Best Overall Blog Post ( 'A Difficult Lesson')

Best Large Blog

Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog

Best Personal Blog

* The historic radio broadcast of the liberation of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall was researched,  transcribed and translated by Yitschak Horneman / Quality Translations, Jerusalem

© 2004 IsraCast. All rights reserved.


Posted by David Bogner on May 16, 2007 | Permalink


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Sorry, Trep, I couldn't do it. Read it without crying, that is. Maybe next year.

Todah Rabah v'Chag Sameach!

Posted by: dfb1968 | May 16, 2007 9:30:23 AM

It makes me sad to think about how many people would re-divide Jerusalem again in a second on the off chance that it might buy us a few weeks of a shaky 'truce'.

Baruch Hashem, not all that many, at least according to this report.

I couldn't even read the transcription without tearing up, so I'd better pass on listening to the recording at least until I finish work for the day. Thanks for posting it.

Posted by: Simon | May 16, 2007 9:49:09 AM

Can't wait to visit Yerushalayim.

Posted by: Rami | May 16, 2007 10:22:56 AM

What should never be forgotten are the sacrifices made by the troops that conducted the op, especially the men of Colonel Gur's 55th Paratroop Brigade. The battle for Ammunition Hill and the subsequent urban combat that took the brigade around the north side of the Old City to the foot of Mount Scopus (relieving the Scopus garrison) and up to the high ground of the Mount of Olives cost them dearly. The price of freedom is blood, and the 55th paid the bill in full.

As a side note, when Colonel Gur gave the order to assault the Temple Mount (which David listed above), he deliberately broke communications security rules by announcing the names of his brigade and battalions over a non-secure radio net. He did that to ensure that those unit names would go in the radio logs and be recorded for history.

If anyone is interested in the detailed story of the battle, I highly recommend 'The Battle for Jerusalem' by Abraham Rabinovich. A really good read, but you'll have a lump in your throat.

Posted by: K Newman | May 16, 2007 12:00:40 PM

my youngest son has a yom yerushalayim play tonight. the premsie is that all of the "old" chagim honor the "new" chagim of yom haazmaut and yom yerushalayim with gifts. the play concludes with the broadcast you are blogging about. i already have goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes, and this is the third time i have a child doing this play!

Posted by: rachel | May 16, 2007 4:58:45 PM

It still gives me chills.

Posted by: Jack | May 16, 2007 5:43:41 PM

I only wish that the IsraCast translation were more complete; there's a couple of sections in the recording that are missing in the transcription (including, if my grasp of Hebrew isn't completely off, a typically Israeli dig at a colleague's age).

Hearing Yossi Ronen's voice change (boy, those rolled reshes sound pretentious, don't they?) as he approaches the kotel, and the deep sobs of one of the soldiers during R' Goren's Kel Malei Rachamim (and, ohmigod, is someone actually asking "Lama ata bocheh?" ["Why are you crying?"] during that segment?) are just incredible.

Spine-tingling. NEVER apologize for posting this on Yom Yerushalayim; there's nothing you could ever write or post that could be more appropriate.

Posted by: efrex | May 16, 2007 9:03:07 PM

I love that you post this every year. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet (maybe when I get home from work), but just reading the transcript gets me all teary.

Posted by: projgen | May 17, 2007 2:26:25 AM

Wow. That was powerful. It's been since high school since I listened to that, and I think my hebrew is better now. Wow. thanks for posting this David. (oh, and in the past I'd commented as Annie, but then I realized someone was already using that name, so I changed it a bit).

Posted by: AnnieD | May 17, 2007 3:37:14 AM

That's still one of the most powerfull recordings ever.

And I particularly remember that day, because it was a day of great joy.

Quite a few of the adults I knew then burbled giddily for days afterwards. The glow lasted for several more months.

Posted by: Back of the Hill | May 17, 2007 4:40:46 AM

Wow. Just... wow.

And sir, i must thank you (you know what for). (((hug)))

Posted by: mercurial scribe | May 17, 2007 7:02:14 AM

you got me...again...where is the kleenex?

Posted by: marallyn | May 17, 2007 10:05:29 AM

dfb1968... Toldja! :-)

Simon... If you read the poll question, they asked if Israel should give up THE WESTERN WALL in order to gain peace. That is a far cry from redividing the city... an idea for which I've heard many Israelis voice support.

Rami... I hope it happens soon.

K Newman... Excellent points. Many people listening to the broadcast today could be forgiven for assuming that the soldiers simply woke up that morning and walked into the old city.

rachel... We'll be sure to stock up on the tissues for your arrival. :-)

Jack... Me too.

efrex... Yes, I debated about enhancing the translation beyond the few minor corrections I made, but decided not to mess with it.

projgen... Don't miss the opportunity to listen to it. There are a few famous speeches, including this one and MLK's 'I have a dream speech, that need to be dusted off at least once per year.

AnnieD... You're welcome. And I enjoy your comments no matter what nave you use. :-)

Back of the Hill... So many of my countrymen have, sadly, forgotten.

mercurial scribe.. Por nada.

marallyn... At least I posted a warning this time. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 17, 2007 3:21:15 PM

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