By Rabbi Israel Rubin

"Next year in Jerusalem!" is the wistful cry of Jews around the world at the end of the Passover Seder and the culmination of the Yom Kippur services.

But this year, the words and sentiment make a bold statement at a crucial time, when Jerusalem is surrounded by violence and political turmoil. For, when terrorists fire at passing cars, distant outposts, babies in their mothers' arms, they are really aiming for Jerusalem, the heart of this explosive issue.

But why this global struggle over a place with no strategic, industrial, com-mercial or military value? Why such tumult over an outer wall, and an old city that seems to have seen better days?

Jerusalem is etched into our sub-consciousness. Like the massive stones of the Western Wall, more of it is hidden deep below than is visible on the surface.

As we were exiled from Israel, we took an oath by the rivers of Babylon. "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its strength. Let my tongue cling to my palate..." (Psalm 137).

Historically, this is where Abraham offered his son Isaac and declared, "This is the place where G‑d will be seen." Jerusalem is central to Jacob's ladder, the angelic vision that caused him to exclaim: "How awesome is this place; this is nothing else but the House of G‑d, and this is the portal to Heaven."

Jerusalem is the site that G‑d direc-ted King David to choose for His eternal dwelling place. The Temple Mount is where both Holy Temples, the first built by King Solomon and the later by the Prophets Ezra and Nehemia, stood.

Even after the Destruction of the Temples Jerusalem's holiness did not dissipate, being the central place where G‑dliness is real and palpable. Jerusalem is the point where Heaven and Earth meet; the focus of all our prayers from all corners of the world.

As the great poet Judah HaLevy romanticized; "I am in the West, but my heart is in the East." Jerusalem is the world's heartbeat, whence Divine energy and consciousness ripple out to the rest of the world.

Jerusalem represents the world's memory. The Romans tried to crush Judaism by ruining the Temple, plowing over the city. A millennium later, the Crusaders fought their way across Europe to rewrite Jerusalem's history, expelling its Jews and destroying its synagogues. And Islamic jihads tried to erase Jerusalem's memory by expelling both Jews and Christians, and building mosques on Jewish holy sites. Only recently, the Moslem Waqf issued an edict "forbidding Jews from placing prayer papers or touching the stones of the Western Wall."

Despite and through it all, Jews keep Jerusalem in our prayers, turning to face it from whichever direction.

When Jerusalem was liberated during the Six Day War, battle-hardened soldiers wept like children. It was a moving homecoming when past became present, incredibly transforming who we knew ourselves to be. Jerusalem became united, and at the same time, united us, old and young, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, religious and secular, as the Psalmist wrote: "Jerusalem unites us together" (Psalms 122).

But some of us needed a reminder to jolt us out of complacency, as Jerusalem almost became negotiable and riddled with question marks.

Let's not forget that memory is more than just the ability to retain facts or collect memorabilia. People who suffer memory loss don't just forget phone numbers or misplace their keys. Amnesia robs its victims of their personal identity and dignity; it is not just a loss of the past, but also of the present and future.

Jerusalem embodies our future, to be fulfilled in the final Redemption with Moshiach. Our attachment to Jerusalem runs deeper than archeological concerns for old relics and artifacts.

Our destiny is rooted deeper in the Scriptures, where the Prophets predicted a future when Jerusalem's former glory will be reinstated, and even expanded above and beyond. That universal event will transform Jerusalem into the center of true peace, and the whole world will rejoice together!