Yom HaZikaron & Yom Ha-atzmaut

Written by: Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman

Dear friends,

As we move from Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s memorial day, into Yom Ha-atzmaut, Israel’s celebration of independence, many of us are filled with mixed emotions. We all yearn for peace and security for the land and our people, yet many of us, including tens of thousands of Israelis, have serious anxieties about the current government and the direction it is moving. Today is a day to reflect on the wonder of Israel, to celebrate its existence and also to ask the vital questions.

Below is a link to an article by By Rabbi Avital Hochstein from Hadar that explores the notion of a “holy land” from Torah texts that address the concept of holiness. She asks the question: in what ways is it possible, worthwhile, and appropriate to live in a “holy place.”

Additionally, there are many opportunities below to both celebrate and explore Israel’s current situation through the lens of our scholar friends at the Shalom Hartman Institute. Please scroll down and enjoy the many offerings.

With prayers for peace,
Rabba Kaya

A Prayer for Israel at Seventy-Five
by Rabbi Naomi Levy

God, our Light, Israel at seventy-five is a miracle before our eyes.
Zion weeps tears of gratitude and joy,
Her children are flourishing, her cities teeming with promise and innovation.
We marvel at this tiny nation, ancient and new.
Jerusalem’s holy golden stones, safe beneath the Iron Dome.
There is so much to be thankful for,
Yet our hearts can’t help but ache for all the sacrifice,
All the precious lives lost to terror and war,
Grieving parents whose children are no more.
Send comfort O God and blessings and strength.
Spread Your shelter over Israel, over all who live there.
Protect the men and women who defend the land,
Hear their prayers. Bring peace, God.
Let it rain down from the heavens like a mighty storm,
Let it wash away all hatred and bloodshed.
We pray for the day
When the sound of sirens will give way to songs of celebration.
Let the skeptics roll their eyes,
A two thousand-year-old hope will never die.

Guardian of Israel, in these fragile days of protest and unrest,
Fill Israel’s leaders with humility and wisdom
To protect democracy and justice.
So long as there is breath within us
Our people must speak out with all their might
To defend what is right.

Prophecies of old can still come true,
A psalm on David’s lyre still soothes,
The fire the Maccabees lit still burns,
Our Jewish heart still yearns.
We remember the hope,
The lamb and the lion,
All of us,
All of us,
Dreaming of Zion.

Bless Israel with peace, God.
Please, God.   Amen

Sanctity and Land – Yom Ha’atzmaut
by Rabbi Avital Hochstein, for Hadar

I live in Israel. I am moved to tears on election days, and proud to build a non-profit organization that receives certification every year from the State of Israel. I often—both in theory and in practice—explore what it means to be the majority in the political realm, and engage the question of how to hold that power morally. This is both an opportunity and a privilege that Jews have not had for thousands of years. This year, at this moment, the identity of the State of Israel is on the line.

Israel@75: Hartman scholars reflect newsletter
As we commemorate Yom HaZikaron and prepare to mark Israel’s independence, Hartman scholars consider the challenges, costs, and opportunities that come with 75 years of Statehood.

Read new perspectives on this moment in Israel’s history, and join us for a series of rich, thoughtful conversations that explore the dynamics of the North American Jewish relationship with Israel.  Learn more.

Share this post: