Israel’s Independence Day is a day for rejoicing. Next Tuesday Israel will mark 66 years since its rebirth on the international stage. Yom Ha-atzmaut, Israel Independence Day is not just a secular holiday but for all Jews around the world, Israel’s rebirth day is the fulfillment of an age – old dream. It is a miracle.
It was only 2 weeks ago as our Passover Sedarim ended that we all exclaimed, “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Dreaming of Israel and Zion has been a deep part of our rituals and prayers throughout millennium. And today, when we as the Jewish people are blessed with seeing a vibrant Israel before our very eyes, we should give thanks for this miracle in our midst. We will observe Yom Ha-atzmaut at services this Friday night at 6:45 pm.
Today more than ever Israel needs our support. And supporting Israel doesn’t mean that we agree with everything that happens politically in Israel. But it does mean that we Jews have responsibility to correct the naysayers, who want to deny Israel’s existence, or are a part of the BDS movement which urges boycotts and divestment of companies that do business in Israel. This movement’s real aim is to destroy Israel. Israel is a thriving democracy, different than ours, but it is a democracy. Israel is trying to define itself. What is a Jewish Democratic State to be like? What is the role of others? How do we balance these things?
Sadly, the peace process once again has been paused. But as Israel celebrates its 66 years of modern independence we cannot let those who would destroy Israel succeed. Israel like the United States has policies to praise and policies we wish to change. Society is complex. But there is much to celebrate on Yom Ha-atzmaut. Not the least of which is the miracle of Israel’s rebirth!
I want to share a poem with you written by a young man, Eitan Press who made Aliyah to Israel in 2009. It captures the complexities of the modern State of Israel and of life there. Happy Birthday Israel.
by Eitan Press
In Israel, people with guns
are shooting at people with bombs
In Israel, everywhere is dangerous
“don’t get blown up” they say
In Israel, Moses saw the Promised Land
Jesus returned pardon for injury,
& Mohammed tramped with Gabriel
In Israel, a lot of people talk to God
In Israel, God whispers back “One”
In Israel, Arsim & Chassidim & Haredim
Walk in the park with Datim & Chilunim
“Ma Ha Matzav?”
It’s everywhere, it hasn’t ended,
& the eyes of man offer no resolution
In Israel, there is more gas
generated by falafel
than many other countries
In Israel, there is a little coffee shop
That sells used books and people come & write
While young beautiful Israeli’s sweat for Shekalim
And still smile even though they are tired.
In Israel, most people don’t fight
Just like everywhere else.
In Israel, the army is a part of puberty.
In Israel, Jews want to know “Why?”
Just as much as everyone else.
In Israel, a lot of people are waiting.
In Israel, soul eaters are dressed like soul savers
& the water in the mikvah is dirty.
In Israel, apathetic hipsters don’t care about the fact that they are in Israel
In Israel, hash is more available than weed
In Israel, the land is still a maiden who loves you
Even though she has a thousand scars
Her eye is still bright & she holds out her hand.
In Israel, my heart has found a place to put down roots.
In Israel, wrestling with angels is a national past time.
In Israel, what is forgotten is remembered.
In Israel, brothers play paddle ball
every week on the beach in Tel Aviv
In Israel, a dream greets the dawn
And is a babe, a man, and an elder all at once.
In Israel, the City of Gold’s light,
Is not made of pavement.
In Israel, Shabbos is coming
And it’s time to rest.
This poem appeared in the Huffington Post April 15, 2013