20 Jan Yom Ha’atzmaut
Israel at 63
Rabbi Victor Weissberg
It’s hard to believe that Israel is celebrating its 63rd birthday. Some of us – admittedly a diminishing number, remember a time before the State of Israel – Medinat Yisrael, was re-established. It was not an easy time. Parents and grandparents whispered and wrung their hands at the reports of family members trapped and ultimately destroyed. And with them a way of life – a thousand years of achievement and contribution to Western Culture ended by human bestiality that beggared description and defied imagination. Yes, some of us still speak the language, sing the melodies, and are inspired by the prayers.
Now there are new generations: not one, but three and soon to be more, whose feet move, hearts beat, and voices declare Am Yisrael Chai – The people of Israel lives! It’s the song of pride. It’s the dream made real. A people long dispersed – coalesced. A people which wrote and spoke a myriad of languages reveling in their own sacred tongue now spoken by millions daily and declaring in poetry and technology that the ancient gifts of the spirit have sired new, exciting creations of mind and matter to benefit, heal and uplift humanity.
All this has not been achieved by divine fiat, but by human will. All this and more has not been achieved because Israel exists in a neighborhood of freedom, friendship and progress. Anyone who knows the truth will realize that the opposite is true, which renders the miracle of Israel’s achievements and contributions all the more laudable.
Where others sought to hobble, isolate, bring low and destroy Israel, her leaders and her people have settled, rehabilitated and embraced the broken, the orphaned, the indigent, the tempest tossed and forged a nation, strong, educated, proud and united still facing threats, but still striding forward.
All of us, young and old; those who remember the past and those who rejoice in the present cannot rest in the future. We know the challenges that are part of a quickly changing world. But we believe Netzach Yisrael Lo Y’Shakker. The Eternity of Israel is no lie – no empty slogan. This, is rather a clarion call – To exert our fullest energies in safe guarding Israel’s security in advancing Israel’s honor and fame and acknowledging that Israel’s – Judaism’s classic criterion of authenticity is functional and not intellectual…To do all we can in her behalf and bring our blessing to a world long darkened by the shadow of hate and war. Peace, Prosperity progress to a humanity uplifted by and through our achievements and spirit.
Am Yisrael Chai V’Kayam