Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; “May those who love you be in tranquility. (122:6)

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Jerusalem to Judaism, from the shaping of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish practice, the city is to Jewish history what Rome was to the Romans or what Babylon was to the Babylonians. Except while those ancient empires are no more, the Jewish civilization that grew up around Jerusalem thrives. I think of Jerusalem as the power source for my spiritual battery. Judaism has been powered either by the fact or by the memory of Jerusalem its Capitol city for over 3000 years, and both Judaism and Islam preserve traditions that connect Jerusalem with the site of Abraham’s binding of his son Isaac (or Ishmael, in the Moslem tradition), perhaps 3800 years ago.

The ancient etymology of the name ‘Jerusalem’ is made up of the two words “city of” and “Shalom,” peace. A vital Jerusalem is necessary for the spiritual life of Israel. A Jew who lives connected to Jewish texts and traditions cannot live in tranquility when our most sacred city is not a peace.

In ancient Jewish maps of the world, Jerusalem is in the center. In Jewish maps of the spiritual life, Jerusalem is the center. May we see the day when Isaiah’s vision comes to pass, that “… My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” and the house of worship on the Temple Mount will be a place where people of all faiths can pray in peace together.