Tag: Independence Day

Celebrations That Defy Human Comprehension

…The Stories of Passover to Yom Ha’atzma-ut

Israels Independence Day

Our people sang this Song of the Sea, not just to celebrate that they were alive as individuals (dayeinu), and not just that they had survived as a people (dayeinu). For the first time in centuries, our people could hope for more than survival – we finally would have a chance to flourish! What could we accomplish now free from chains and degradation? This was the promise that became a hope; the dream that was eventually willed into a reality. But it took a while…

For the past 2,000 years, since the fall of Bar Kochba (136 CE), we Jews had existed in forced exile from our land, Israel (although there always was a Jewish presence living there). Across the globe we have been scattered. Although there have been ”golden ages” throughout the millennia, for the most part, our history has been one similar to our ”slave days” in Egypt, where we were at the mercy of the gentile rulers, masses, and mob.
Daily, we faced Jerusalem and prayed for a time when we would again return to Israel, where our people would be reunited from the four corners of the earth, when we Jews would rule ourselves rather than be at the mercy of ”the world.” In the late 19th century, on the heels of renewed anti-Semitism and European pogroms, this religious Zionism morphed into a political Zionism. No longer would we wait for God to bring us out of bondage by parting the sea, but rather, we would have to take the steps ourselves. Only when we Jews took our destiny into our own hands would we have a safe haven, and a place where we could express ourselves authentically and without fear.

Our recent history is truly miraculous, with wave after wave of Jewish youth paving the way towards a modern State of Israel, each one taking a step, which led to another, and another. Along the way, these Jews reinvented themselves despite the negative stereotypes that we had lived with for thousands of years. These pioneers were the “new Jews”, and they were brave and strong, physical and expressive in a way that our people had not seen in a very long time.

When Israel declared independence on May
14, 1948 (5 Iyar 5708), once again, our people experienced the extreme celebration that almost defies human comprehension. Once again, we could hope for more than just survival. Once again we had a chance to truly flourish!

Let us all join together in celebration of Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) and how far we have come on Sunday, April 29 with a day-long festival at Stephen S. Wise Temple – From Israel to L.A. The day will feature activities centered around Israeli culture, Jewish athleticism, and, most of all, our thriving Jewish community. Whether it’s our 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Israeli art show, or interactive preschool activities, there will be something for everyone who wants to partake in this joyous day celebrating one of the most pivotal moments in our Jewish history (see below and page 8 for additional details). I hope to share in it with you.

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