Our instructions were to arrive at Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem. From the moment we boarded buses to the new U.S. Embassy, the collective excitement and anticipation was clear. Just being on a bus with Natan Sharansky sitting a few seats away was exhilarating. We could have stayed on the bus for hours and it would have been enough for us (dayenu!).
When we arrived at the new embassy site, we were greeted with printed baseball caps and bracelets saying “U.S. Embassy Jerusalem, Israel,” and led to our seats. Even with the two-hour wait between the arrival of attendees and the start of the ceremony at 4 p.m., there was such an exciting and electric synergy in the air. Everyone was so friendly; whether you knew someone or not, everyone was talking to one another. It was a kind of familiar, “Hey, I know you, I met you at Sinai” feeling.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was the master of ceremonies and set a tone of gratitude and humility throughout the entire dedication: gratitude to President Trump for keeping his promise, and to all the people who worked so hard to reach this day; and humility in recognizing the Holocaust survivors in attendance or watching on TV “who thought that this day would never come.”
“We can never relieve the nightmare of your past, but we do hope that today brings you some measure of comfort,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was overcome with emotion as he reminisced about playing in the empty fields of this neighborhood as a 3-year-old holding the hand of his 6-year-old brother, Yoni. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, and all of the religious leaders who spoke contributed to the feeling of unity and optimism.
One after the other, the speakers echoed their commitment to pursuing a long-lasting peace with Israel’s neighbors, and that the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was a step forward in creating a new opportunity for peace — peace built upon the truth that Jerusalem was and is the eternal capital of Israel, a truth that does not compromise peace negotiations but rather enhances and strengthens them, they said.
In the Talmud, tractate Berachot 55b teaches that “a good dream can take as long as 22 years to be fulfilled.” The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 took 22 and a half years to be realized. While six-and-a-half years passed before King David moved his capital to Jerusalem, it only took President Trump and Ambassador Friedman five months to make this dream a reality.
It is a deep privilege to be living during this time in history; realizing the dreams of so many who have come before us. As proud Israelis and Americans, we feel the hand of G-d leading the way through events that we never thought possible.
By Rabbi Joel and Aviva Tessler