State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg joined House Speaker Paul Ryan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem last week.
Ms. Weinberg was with Mr. Ryan and Mr. Netanyahu virtually. She spoke at the Ben Porat Yosef Yeshiva Day School in Paramus. The others were on a simulcast that featured Israeli and American leaders.
The broadcast last Wednesday was organized nationally by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. The speeches were delivered at the U.S. Capitol and at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, and those two venues broadcast a live stream of each other’s activities.
Ben Porat Yosef was the New Jersey outpost for the celebration; similar gatherings were held in the other 49 states.
Speaker Ryan (R-Wis.) reflected on his personal experience visiting Jerusalem’s holy sites, and lauded the bravery of Israeli troops who captured the eastern part of the city during the Six-Day War in 1967.
“After thousands of years in exile, the Jewish people are finally back home… home in their eternal, united capital of Jerusalem, never to be divided again,” he said.
Addressing American supporters of Israel, Mr. Netanyahu said: “We know that you understand that the story of Israel, in many ways, the rebirth of Israel and our return to this land and to this city … is a parable for all humanity. Because if the Jews can overcome the worst travails in history, that means there is hope for all humanity.”
The U.S ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, attended the broadcast at the Knesset.
An American military band opened the event at the Capitol with the “Star-Spangled Banner” and closed with “Yerushalayim Shel Zahal” — “Jerusalem of Gold” — a song whose final verse was written after the city’s reunification. Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who is a major backer of pro-Israel and Republican party causes, sat with Mr. Ryan and Mr. Dermer at the Washington event. Ofer Shelah, a Knesset member with the centrist Yesh Atid party was also at the Capitol, and he talked about his feelings about the events of 1967.
“My son now is a reserves paratrooper, a member of the same brigade that freed Jerusalem,” Mr. Shelah said. “As many Israelis of my generation I do have deep ties to that period. Every Jew in the world has deep ties to Jerusalem.”
Ben Porat Yosef’s eighth graders were at the Paramus broadcast. Jason Shames, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey; Galit Peleg of the Israeli consulate in New York; Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, and Mark Levenson, chairman of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, all were there as well.
Giovanna Paz of JTA Wire Service contributed to this story.