ISRAEL AT 70!
Some of us were alive to celebrate the birth of the modern state of Israel on May 14, 1948.
All of us are alive to celebrate the 70th birthday of the modern state of Israel this spring (the actual date this year corresponding to the 5th of Iyar is April 19).
I am sorry that I was not yet born to witness the miracle of Israel’s founding. The ingathering of the exiles, the revival of a Jewish state, the rebirth of Hebrew: Is there a more astounding event in all of Jewish history? What a marvel, after twenty centuries, to be able to board an airplane and eleven hours later touch down in the holy land of a sovereign Jewish state. What a privilege to be able to support Israel wherever we may live.
I call Israel “my other country” or “my second home”. It’s not simply because I happen to have dual citizenship, and the fact that my family of five have ten passports. It’s not simply because I studied there, got married there, worked there, served in the army there… in fact all of that was decades ago.
It’s because I believe if you are Jewish, Israel is your spiritual homeland, if not your physical one.
It’s because you are a citizen of the United States and you are a citizen of the Jewish people.
It’s because I believe that if America is your mother and Israel is your father, you should love both your parents.
Israel is family. You love your family… and you criticize your family. As I have said before: unconditional love does not mean uncritical love. You love your spouse and children unconditionally; that does not mean that you look away when you think they are wrong. You speak up for their sake; precisely because you care. Yes, we need to work for a more just Israel, inside and out. There is a time for criticism… but not at the expense of celebration.
At this time, let’s reiterate our love and praise of Israel—that’s what families do at birthdays. And so I am asking every member of the congregation to send me a one sentence line, “What Israel Means to Me….” (rabbiblschwartz at gmail.com)
We will read every response at our special Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) Shabbat service on April 27. Our goal is 70 statements for Israel’s 70 th birthday! We’re throwing a party… Join the Celebration!