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July 30, 2015 / 14 Av, 5775
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The Last Secular Jew in Israel

Operation Hallel

It’s no secret that a tremendous spiritual revolution is approaching in Israel. Even the secular Jews know it, and that’s why they’re so uptight. In a big way, it’s already happening. Israel is the Torah center of the world. Religious Jews are everywhere. The baal tshuva phenomena is booming. And while secular families in Israel have one, two, maybe three children, the religious start with five and end up with twelve or more. You don’t have to be a genius at statistics to realize that even if the rate of tshuva isn’t accelerated more than it is today, and even if the Lords of Flatbush and Brooklyn Dodgers don’t come on aliyah from New York, even without them, in another decade, the religious will have a majority of seats in the Knesset, and then we’re in for a lot of fun! So, as part of our continuing tribute to Jewish Book Week in Israel, we are posting another short story from Days of Mashiach  about the last remaining secular Jew in Israel. Happy reading!

OPERATION HALLEL

The chief of staff, the generals, nuclear physicists, and rabbis stood staring at the panoramic screen in the IDF’s Strategic Military Control Center. The computerized screen spanned a wall in the war room which had been code-named “Magen David” because of its star-shaped design. Up on the screen was a satellite map of the world. Israel was a small red light in the center of the globe, like a heart amidst the organs of the body. Other lights were flickering on the screen from all over the northern hemisphere. New lights flashed on over Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. Each light marked the launching of a nuclear warhead from an underground silo. Russia had started the massive attack only a minute before with a wave of missiles which were now on their way over Turkey and arcing steadily closer toward Israel. Bombers were streaking toward the Mediterranean. None of the bearded men in the room seemed surprised when the United States joined in the air strike. America’s participation in the UN coalition against the tiny Jewish State had been predicted for weeks, ever since the mass arrests of Jews in America. The Arab oil embargo had crippled world economy and left Americans angry and cold. Until Palestine was freed, the Arabs were refusing to export their oil. On the pretext of safety, American Foreign Service personnel had been evacuated from Israel. Once again, the Jews had been set up for slaughter. On the screen in the war room, lights were flickering now over Pakistan and, France, and Germany.

“It’s seems like every uncircumcised dog with an A-bomb wants to get a crack at us,” Yehuda growled, throwing up his hands in dismay.

For a moment, everyone laughed, even the rabbis. In fact, Yehuda, the world-famous air-force commander was the only non-religious officer in the underground center. The secret bunker had been re-nicknamed “The Covenant Room” because all of the bearded, skull-capped men present believed that this was the place where God would reaffirm, before the eyes of the world, the ancient Covenant He had made with Abraham, bequeathing the Land of Israel to the Jews. Yehuda believed it, too, in a deep non-religious way which he couldn’t define nor express. He was a simple man, a soldier’s soldier, born with an ardent love for his land and his people. In war after bloody war, he had risked his life on the battlefield and in the skies. Both Jews and Arabs called him the Lion of Yehuda. Now, once again, he had stayed on to fight, long after many others had left, because he knew, in the way only a military specialist could know, that Israel’s great victories over much vaster forces had been caused by something more than military prowess and weaponry. Yehuda had sensed, almost mystically from his very first battle, the presence of some unseen helping hand.

All of the eyes in the room were watching him now. Lights had flashed on over China and from submarines scattered throughout the seven seas. Yehuda gazed at the tense faces around him. They were all good solid soldiers. Many were graduates of Hesder yeshivot. Others were Russians who had spent years in Siberian jails. Several of the bearded men had been his soldiers before they had become baale tshuva during the great religious revolution in Israel. Seemingly overnight, the nation had returned to the Torah. After the last elections, when the majority of the Knesset became religious, most of Yehuda’s contemporaries had fled. The people he had grown up with, the builders of the country, had become a tired and spiritually empty minority – all of the socialists, liberals, democrats, professors, and writers who had lacked the final faith to continue the struggle against what seemed like insurmountable odds. The young people had abandoned the country with them, the children of the kibbutz generation who had yearned for peace at all costs. The orphans of Rabin Square had fled the country for the more peaceful plazas of L.A. and New York when the religious parties took over.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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2 Responses to “The Last Secular Jew in Israel”

  1. chavazlotkin says:

    Wow! B’karov b’yameinu!

  2. chavazlotkin says:

    Tzvi, I’m glad you didn’t really go back to Hollywood!

Comments are closed.

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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