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Israel at 75

04/27/2023 03:02:18 PM


Rabbi Hearshen

עוד לא אבדה תקותינו. התקוה בת שנות אלפיים להיות עם חפשי בארצינו ארץ ציון וירושלים. We have still not lost our hope. The hope of two thousand years to be a free people in the land of Zion and Jerusalem. We all know these words as we’ve been standing for their singing since as far back as we can recall. The idea of hope is something that always felt so out of reach, unattainable, for our people over generations. As we endured one humiliation and brutalization after another, one thing kept us going strong and that’s an unwillingness to give in to hopelessness. No other people in the history of the world have endured exile for as long as we did and successfully returned to end the exile. For generations we’ve been united in our undying desire to return to our home, the land of Israel. This is in part why we pray facing Israel/Jerusalem. This is why we pray three times a day for a return to Israel. When we came back together, we discovered Jews of all types that had been separated by the years of exile, and that in spite of our real differences, there was so much to connect us in our religion and longing.

This week, we celebrated this accomplishment from 75 years ago. It was in May of 1948 that this hope and dream of thousands of years was realized with our homeland in our ancestral land. As a country only 75 years old, it’s astonishing how much we’ve managed to achieve in our infancy. Just look at the number of technological advancements people around the world have benefited from using. Look at the medical advancements Israel has managed to bring into existence and the number of lives that have been improved and saved by the scientists and doctors of the Jewish State. Take a look at the large amount of great art, music and film that’s come from our small country the size of New Jersey.

Israel has shown the world hope is a worthy thing to bet on. Israel has shown all of humanity that when a people are driven with a purpose and with a deeper connection, there’s no end to what they can achieve and how far their hopes and dreams can take them. Israel has managed to take in refugees from Europe, North Africa, Central Africa, the Middle East and other places and integrate them into a society. Israel has managed to defend itself against a group of neighbors hellbent on its destruction and still manage to produce so much for the world. Hope is the root of all of this and hope is the magical ingredient that has sustained the State of Israel for 75 years and will continue to sustain it forever.

Oftentimes, people have the conversation about why Israel matters and they all too often assert Israel is the “safe haven” for the Jewish people. While Israel is a place all Jews can go in times of danger, this is such a limited way to see our precious state. By seeing Israel as merely a safe haven, it depicts the people of Israel as being “place holders” for the world Jewish population “in case we ever need it.” Israel is not only a safe haven, it’s the heart of our world as Jewish people. It’s the Jewish State and the Jewish Homeland. Each and every person who identifies as a Jew has a stake in the future of the State of Israel. The soul of the Jewish people lives in Zion and we take so much from our relationship to the land and its people. This is also a symbiotic relationship as we in the Diaspora give so much to our Homeland and the people of the State of Israel give so much to us. We must work harder to sustain this essential relationship and we must recognize that we need each other.

75 years ago, our hopes and dreams were realized when David Ben-Gurion and others signed the Declaration of Independence and declared the modern state of Israel. But the hoping and the dreaming has not ended. We continue to hope and dream that our homeland will continue to prosper and grow. We continue to hope and dream that the Stare of Israel will manage to live in peace and security with its neighbors as all countries are entitled to live. We continue to hope and dream that Israel will remain a light unto the nations and a light unto us in the Diaspora. We have not lost hope and never will… the way of the Jewish people, and the way of the State of Israel, is to live in a world filled with hope.

Happy 75th Birthday!   

Sun, June 16 2024 10 Sivan 5784