Every segment of the population was represented, kibbutz members and soldiers in tallitot rubbing shoulders with Neturei Karta. Mothers came with children in prams, and old men trudged steeply up Mount Zion, supported by youngsters on either side, to see the Wall of the Temple before the end of their days.
Some wept, but most faces were wreathed in smiles. For 13 continuous hours, a colourful variety of people trudged along, stepping patiently when told to do so at each of the six successive barriers set up by the police to regulate the flow.
In the 1930s the Jewish population in Jerusalem exceeded 50,000. By 1948 it had doubled. And 19 years later in 1967 it had nearly doubled again to 295,000.
But it was not until the reunification of Jerusalem 45 years ago today, on the 28th of Iyar, that the city truly began to flourish. No longer shackled by oppressive Jordanian rule over its eastern half, it could thrive and develop.
Though the Temple remains in ruins, the earthly, material city has truly been rebuilt. Just wander the streets around Mamilla or visit the outlaying neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev and Neveh Ya’acov.
Jerusalem, Israel’s largest city, was home to 801,000 at the end of 2011. Never before has Jerusalem thrived so impressively. It should not be a surprise that it is the most desired place to live among new immigrants, according to a Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies report released on Jerusalem Day.