web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Flag-Elation


Heiman-041213

Erev Yom Ha’Atzmaut, 2012: As I return from a visit to my elderly mother in the northern part of Jerusalem, the bus winds its way through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. The stone buildings along the route are colorless shades of sand and grey, some new, some old and blackened with age. Men and women rush through busy streets, expressions of pain and joy, helpless and hopeful looks defining their faces.

The bus steers past young women, their cell phones dangling like earrings, walking and talking, ears pressed to their shoulders as they simultaneously push baby carriages. Shopping districts bustle with activity; wares for sale hang on racks or are folded and stacked underneath coverings spread out bazaar style.

It is a day before Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and no matter where my eyes roam there is not a flag in sight; only large placards of warnings and mourning in oversized bold black letters admonishing unacceptable behavior, or listing recent tragic losses in local communities.

The bus turns up Yechezkel Street, across Malchei Yisroel and up Strauss, and still not a single flag. At last, it stops on the corner of Rechov Hanevi’im, Prophets Street, where a long blue and white banner is suspended from top to bottom at the entrance to Bikur Cholim Hospital, (now part of Shaare Zedek).

I have fond memories of Jerusalem’s Bikur Cholim; some fifty years ago my eldest daughter was born in the hospital. It wasn’t erev Yom Ha’Atzmaut, it was pre-Yom Kippur. The delivery room stood in the center of the main first floor corridor partitioned with a wall about two and a half meters high, completely open at the top and reaching high to the century-old arched ceiling. Women in the delivery room could be heard shrieking “Imahleh, Imahleh,” before the piercing scream heralding new life.

A woman in the bed opposite me was scheduled for surgery, yet when two nurses came to wheel her out, her husband stood there as a lion, roaring. “No operation until I do kapparot with a live chicken.”

Am I dreaming or is this for real? I pinched myself to be sure I was awake. The young nurses argued; they refused to allow the man his kapparot service until an authoritative nurse appeared, her soft white hair rolled into a bun at the nape of her neck. She listened to her subordinates defend their resistance to the chickens, and then she listened to the husband who refused to allow surgery to commence erev Yom Kippur without his wife performing the ritually accepted kapparot practice of his community.

“Okay, you have two minutes to do your thing with the chicken, and then we move,” she ordered firmly, with Solomon-like wisdom. The hospital passageway was teeming with chickens-in-waiting. He grabbed a chicken and recited the text, rotating the live chicken over his wife’s head, and when he ended, the white haired nurse immediately joined the younger nurses and wheeled the patient out of the room.

The bus I’m on lurches back into motion, rolling down the hill past the hospital that fades from view. Flags wave along the route through the city center and beyond.

The nation’s flag is a statement, a reminder of where my sympathies lie, and why. I admit I didn’t always feel this way. As a new immigrant in 1960 from an Orthodox home and neighborhood in Brooklyn, I had never heard of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, an odd combination of a day off, a holiday without any religious connection or restrictions, a Purim-like day without compulsory megillah reading or seudah.

It took a few years to mature, to understand that thousands had given their lives to enable us to return to our homeland, a miracle for a people that has grown from a straggly band of immigrants to an independent Jewish nation to be reckoned with. Just as we are grateful for every live delivery of a child, so too I am filled with gratitude for the birth of this state.

Still, about half of Jerusalem’s citizens are disdainful. For many of them, the flag and the state, like a dysfunctional relative, is a touchy subject – one they prefer to deny or closet. For others, the state and its symbols are illegitimate, a state born in sin, worthy of flagellation. National celebration is ignored; any link to thanking the Almighty is ridiculed.

Is Jerusalem a city of separate peoples divided by a flag? Alternatively, perhaps we are still twelve tribes, pitching banners that define our camps as in days of old. My thoughts race as the bus rapidly turns corners past streets that bear names like Halamed Heh, Kovshei Katamon, Mivtza Kadesh, and Rachel Imeinu, names that evoke connection to historical events leading up to the state, alongside our ancient heritage.

The bus stops at my encampment. I enter my illusory tent, remove a folded flat packet from a shelf, and step out to a flower-filled balcony. Confident that my mother shares my elation, and my father’s face would beam, I string the crispy new flag across the porch railing.

Images flash through my mind of ancient tribes, Reuven and Yehuda in Machaneh Yisrael, the biblical camp of which we read, “each man by his banner according to his father’s household.” Essential values that express individual perception require time to contemplate, to accept. Yet, like a precious mix of blue and white, I sense that spirit of being a part of millions of Jews connected to the State of Israel, rejoicing on its birthday.

Happy Birthday, Israel!

About the Author: Faigie Heiman is an accomplished short-story and essay writer and the author of a popular memoir titled “Girl For Sale.” Born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she has lived in Israel for more than fifty years.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Flag-Elation”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Haredi men cast their votes for the 19th Knesset in Bnei Brak, January 22 2013.
New Poll: Shows Netanyahu Will Lead Next Gov’t with Haredim
Latest Indepth Stories
512px-Jerusalem_Hannukah_021210

Let us become modern day Maccabees and seize the day. Embrace the challenge. Fight for Hashem.

Motta Gur overlooks the Old City with his troops during the Six Day War

Har HaBayit is still Biyadein; Through our actions, its fate is in our hands


What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?

Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

“Mr. Prime Minister, declare a unilateral ceasefire! Remember, Blessed is the peacemaker!”

“D-e-t-e-r-m-i-n-a-t-i-o-n!”

Hamas is continuing to prepare its next war against Israel instead of improving conditions in Gaza

If the UN Grants national recognition to Palestine, why stop there? Tibet, Chechnya, Basque…

The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

More Articles from Faigie Heiman
Mrs. Hench Leiman

Aunt Hench is a natural charmer. A people person, spunky and quick as only someone small as a light bulb can be, and wherever she is, she is a bright star.

President Reuven Rivlin

The president’s message was one of living peacefully in a Jewish and democratic state, Jews of all stripes unified as brothers, with Arabs or citizens of other religions.

Water: a fluid with life-giving force, a thin liquid even a trickle of which can assure survival. Crops, fields, land, people – we all need water. We need water for growth, for purity, for beauty, for subsistence. What do we do when water sources are depleted? We have learned not to behave like the young […]

Beautiful Site, Joy of all the Earth; two of the seventy names provided for Jerusalem.

Beautiful Site, Joy of all the Earth; two of the seventy names provided for Jerusalem.

At age 104, my mother was still concerned about her relationship with Hashem.

Erev Yom Ha’Atzmaut, 2012: As I return from a visit to my elderly mother in the northern part of Jerusalem, the bus winds its way through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. The stone buildings along the route are colorless shades of sand and grey, some new, some old and blackened with age. Men and women rush through busy streets, expressions of pain and joy, helpless and hopeful looks defining their faces.

Turning on the news Thursday night, I expected to hear the wretched daily tally of Kassam/Grad rockets shot from Gaza to into Sderot or Ashkelon; instead, breaking news streamed across the screen about a terror attack taking place that very moment at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/flag-elation/2013/04/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: