It is that time of the year when we in the Midwest are aware that there may be time when we will either get a notice on our phone, on TV, or hear the siren and we know that we will have to head to a safe area due to severe weather. It is a part of living in this part of the country, and it seems a small price to pay to avoid volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes.
This week, many Israelis were forced to seek shelter over and over but for a different reason; the threat was not severe weather but rather missiles launched from Gaza. Although this happened far away, I have many Facebook friends who live in Israel for whom this was a frightening reality. I do not know how one ever can get used to the mad dash to the shelters on a regular basis—sometimes after a long stretch of quiet.
And then, yesterday (after Israeli Memorial Day on Wednesday), the celebrations began for Yom Ha’atzma’ut. Having been in Israel on Independence Day several times, I know how much fun it can be. It is a day to reflect on the many accomplishments of the Jewish State as well as the sacrifices that made it all possible.
How Israelis are able to regulate their emotions from fear of missiles to the elation of the reality of Eretz Yisrael under Jewish sovereignty again after nearly 2000 years? It takes a certain kind of special to do it, I guess.
This Shabbat let us give thanks for the many blessings that the State of Israel has brought. Let us also pray and work for the peace and well-being of all of Israel’s inhabitants. Next year, may there be no reason to fear…only reasons to celebrate!
My weekly musings that I share each week with Beth El – The Heights Synagogue…and now with you too!
This Shabbat is the first of many that is not a “special” Shabbat. The last two weeks were Passover, before that Shabbat Hagadol, and before that Hachodesh, Parah, etc.
Nevertheless, this Shabbat is significant to us today because it falls between two important dates on the Hebrew calendar: Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance) and Yom Hazikaron/Ha’atzma’ut (Israel Memorial Day and Independence Day—that are observed one day after the other). Their proximity on the calendar is coincidental; it is just the way it worked out in modern times. The 27th of Nissan was chosen by the Knesset in the early 1950s as the result of negotiations, putting it somewhere on the Jewish calendar between the day that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began and the day that the Nazis declared that the Ghetto had been completely liquidated. Yom Ha’atzma’ut, of course, was set on the anniversary of the establishment of the state, with Yom Hazikaron set the day before.
It always seemed to me that it was more than a coincidence that these two observances are so close to each other. Just as Yom Ha’atzma’ut follows Yom Hashoah, the establishment of the State of Israel followed the Holocaust. This understanding is somewhat simplistic, though.
Modern Zionism had been working on creating a Jewish State beginning in the 19th Century. Settlement and support of this venture began soon afterward and grew during the first part of the 20th Century. Many historians believe that Israel would have come into being eventually, but that the Holocaust (and the resultant world sympathy for the Jews displaced as result) sped up the process.
Each of these observances stands independently; one is not a result of the other even though they are somewhat connected. This Shabbat as we stand between these two dates, let us reflect one of the worst episodes in our history…as well as one of the most glorious. The path we follow on the calendar remind us of Passover’s message of redemption—even when it seems most unlikely.