• Issue: August 1968
  • Designer: D. Ben Dov
  • Plate no.: 234 - 238
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

Nestling in the gentle hills of Judea is the ancient city of Jerusalem, the eternal and universal city, cornerstone of three great religions and the focal point of the yearning of the Jewish people in their countless generations of exile.

The Temple built in Jerusalem made the city a holy one for the earliest of Jews. The life and teachings of Jesus Christ, which centered in Jerusalem, made "The City of Peace" sacred to Christianity.

For the Muslim, Jerusalem has immense religious significance, but it is surpassed by the Arabian city of Mecca.

But for the Jews, no place on earth is more sacred and revered than Jerusalem. Every holiday and festival, the words "Next year in Jerusalem" are fervently uttered in Jewish homes, and for thousands of years of exile, Jewry has clung stubbornly to the hope of someday returning to the city. Throughout the ages, Jews left the Diaspora to come and settle in Jerusalem. They were often hated and despised by their non-Jewish neighbors, but they were content, living in the town they loved so dearly. Some came to pray and to prostrate themselves on the graves of their forefathers, others came there to die and be buried in God's city.

There were always Jews living in Jerusalem. Conqueror after conqueror drove them out, but they always returned to rebuild what had been destroyed. And a hundred years ago, the braver and hardier of Jerusalem's Jewish population ventured out of the Old City walls to build a new Jerusalem on the undeveloped hills outside - a Jerusalem which was to grow and expand at breathtaking pace as immigrants to the newborn State of Israel arrived in ever-increasing numbers.

The first men to envisage a reborn state of the Jews - the Zionists - also made Jerusalem the focal point of the Return. And it was they who settled there to prepare it for its future task as capital of the Jewish state.

In the 1948 War of Independence Jerusalem's people fought bravely and fiercely for the Holy City, and after the war, the vision became a reality. Jerusalem was crowned capital of Israel.

Today, the entire government is situated in Jerusalem, along with the Knesset (parliament), the residence of the President and the Prime Minister, the Supreme Court of Justice, the Chief Rabbinate, the Jewish Agency, the Hebrew University, the National Library, the Hebrew Language Academy, and the Israel Museum.

But for all its growth and development over 19 years, Jerusalem's joy was never complete, for it was a divided city, cut off from the walled Old City and bereft of Judaism's holiest shrines.

The promise of free access to these shrines after the 1948 war was never kept, and Jewish pilgrims were kept out by barbed wire, mines, and hostility. From afar, devout Jews gazed longingly at the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Mount of Olives, and the Temple Mount.

But now the desolation is ended and the city is redeemed. On June 5, 1967, the Jordanian army began bombarding the Israel side of the Holy City. Two days later, after bitter and bloody fighting, Israeli soldiers burst through the fortifications and handed the other half of the city back to the Jewish people. On this historic day, Jews wept at the "Wailing" Wall for the first time in 19 years. Shortly after the Six-Day War, Israel declared the city united and granted its new Arab citizens equal rights. The barbed wire and fortifications were torn down, and Arabs and Jews mingled in an atmosphere of friendship and good neighborliness. Free access to holy shrines of all faiths was guaranteed, and this time the promise was kept.

The divided city became one city of peace.

Each of the five stamps in the set bears a stylized view of Jerusalem, the Old and the New, with representative elements of Jerusalem: the Temple Mount, the Old City walls, synagogues, mosques, churches, Yad Avshalom, the Citadel (David's Tower), Montefiore's Windmill, the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book. The inscriptions on the tabs are verses from the Bible: "Jerusalem, built as a city which is bound firmly together" (Ps. 122:3); "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Ps. 122:6); "Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen" (Is. 62:6); "Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her" (Is. 66:10); "Rouse yourself, rouse yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem" (Is. 51:17).

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Festivals 1968