Reuven Rivlin, former Speaker of the House for Israel’s Knesset, is a Jersualemite with ties that go back generations.
His ancestor, Rabbi Hillel Rivlin, a relative of the great Vilna Gaon, came to Ottoman Palestine 73 years before the first glimmerings of political Zionism. Rabbi Hillel came because the Gaon instructed his students and family to do so, in preparation for the arrival of the Messiah.
Thirty years later, Rivlin’s mother’s family, followers of Chabad chassidut, arrived, impelled by the wishes of the founder of chassidut, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, who also foresaw the beginning of the Messianic era.
Rabbi Hillel, a follower of the Gaon, married his 7th cousin, the Rivlin girl from the Chabad family — the first marriage in Ottoman Palestine between Chassidim and their opponents, the “Mitnagdim.”
To those who say that the State of Israel is an answer to the Holocaust, or a sop granted the Jews by the United Nations, Rivlin points to his family’s tenure in Israel, long before “Zionism,” long before the terrible horrors of the Shoah, and long before the United Nations (or its previous incarnation, the League of Nations) came into existence.
Jews belong in Israel because it is our ancestral homeland, and Jerusalem, the capital city of every Jew.