Israel’s Independence Day
Tonight, April 28th, 5 Iyar, marks the 61st anniversary of Israel’s independence. Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, albeit with less barbecues and more reflection, is the day before Israel’s Independence Day. In a country as small as Israel, nearly everyone shares in the feelings of collective loss; the memory of lost loved ones, soldiers, victims of terror, and those injured in seemingly never-ending war. The segue from memorial to celebration is tenuous and shocking, but at the same time, kind of natural and comforting. Transitioning from memorial ceremonies, communities across the world often celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut festivities minutes after Yom Ha’zikaron. Speeches and videos give testimony to those who have sacrificed their lives in service of the State of Israel before the the national anthem of Hatikva is sung and the prayer of Maariv begins. After Maariv, Hallel is sung, and the beginnings of Simcha, happiness, emerge, marking the arrival of Yom Ha’Atzmaut. The two days are really one long day, highlighting the polarity of Jewish existence: Yom HaZikaron, bearing the past, one of tears, memories, pain, despair, but not giving up – until handing over the burning torch of the present, promise, hope, renewed faith, and vision, to be carried by future generations. An Israel worth this much, is one worth fighting for. The memories of those who’ve died, are reaffirmed only by celebrating what they died, and what we live, for. On Israel’s Independence Day we sing for those who have given us this music.
There are two videos, both inspirational. The one above is the prayer for the State of Israel, composed by the first Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog. An interesting article about the prayer’s composition can be found here, thanks to Menachem Butler, Shlita (tinyurl.com/3uzogd). I am not sure who composed the melody. But it’s truly gorgeous, as sung here by the choir of Rabbinate of the IDF.
The other video below, if you have time, is equally inspiring, it is a Bio of the first Chief Rabbi of Israel (before the State), Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook. It presents the State of Israel from the perspective of one of its greatest advocates and heartfelt leaders.
May those who share in mourning Israel’s losses be given the opportunity to celebrate in its victories.
Yom Ha’Atzmaut Sameach.
– Lawrence Elchanan