From as young as I can remember the Israeli Independence Day was always something so special to me. Until the age of twelve I grew up in Israel. Here in the holy land of Israel the celebrations were all over the country and everybody was excited to celebrate this joyous day.
Some of my most memorable times were from these moments. My family would invite friends over for the traditional barbeque, and there was music and laughter everywhere, while we, the kids, played all kinds of games, this day was simply filled with love, thankfulness, happiness and togetherness – just what this day represents. When I moved to the United States after I was 12, I missed this day especially. However, in the United States, there was the Israeli Day Parade, which my school, Shulamith High School, attended every year. This was such a memorable event. Our whole school, our whole class, we were all so excited. We dressed up in blue and white with Israeli flags. So proud to be Jewish. So proud to be part of the Jewish nation and the Jewish homeland. We would walk down 5th Avenue with our heads held high, waving our flags, and waving at everybody standing on the side. I pictured myself back in Israel even just for a little bit. The smell of the land, the energy and everything that it entails would come back to me in a flash while paraded down those long streets of New York, bringing my homeland so close to me even though I was across the world.
Since I came back to Israel about 30 years ago, I’ve lived in various areas of the country. When I first arrived and had small children we lived in the Gaza Strip on a settlement called Kfar Darom. I remember those beautiful days so well. When the Israeli Independence Day came around everyone was filled with such joy and solidarity. With flags and special prayers, this day was momentous. Each family dressed up so beautifully in blue and white, while the children would parade around the settlement on the back of the tractor with music and happiness while waving their flags so high in the sky in solidarity and thankfulness to Hashem. That could not be found any other place in the world.
As we moved around the country to different locations, every section had its own beautiful way of celebrating on this special day. I was so proud. And felt so honored to be living here in the holy land of Israel. Sadly though, I know that not everybody celebrates this day. And that not everybody shares my excitement within the Jewish nation.
Seventy-five years ago, the Jewish nation was permitted to come back to their homeland as a nation, under Jewish sovereignty. This is not a small matter. The Jews over the last 2,000 years and more have been scattered all over the globe, and have been in exile. After the horrible Holocaust in Eastern Europe, Hashem in His infinite mercy, allowed His people, His children to come back home, to Israel, to the chosen land, where we all belong, where G-d will dwell amongst us in the third Temple, please G-d soon.
I know that we are not in the full redemption yet. And not all of the people of Israel have come home yet. And yes, the third Temple has not been built yet. And true, Jewish law, and sovereignty is not yet intact. Yes, it is true that the many governments until now, since the beginning of the establishment of the land, in 1948, have not been what we would like it to be as a Jewish nation. And we would rather Jewish law to be the deciding factor. With all that in mind, let us not forget, that without a government, and without an army, we would, not be able to reside in this homeland. The Turks, the British and many before have ruled over the Jewish people for many years. Yes, we have a lot to fix. Yes, we would like the laws to only be according to the Jewish law. However, in these last 75 years we have achieved so much within the limitations of the governments. As a Jewish people we have a lot of Jewish religious and observant, and very righteous, good people who sit in the government as well, and who are concerned and worry that this land and all its inhabitants will live according to Jewish law, as much as they can. They make sure that the thousands of holy yeshivot in Israel will exist and grow in order that the Jewish nation will keep growing and be protected by all the Torah that is learned by these beautiful boys in the holy land. They worry for all the needs of the Jewish people in the land. Thanks to those people sitting in the government, who are G-d fearing Jews.
We have not been fully redeemed yet, and therefore, we don’t have the Sanhedrin, who were all holy and righteous. However, we are getting there. We are not far from there. And on this special day, that the sovereignty was given over to Jewish hands and to a Jewish government to decide what to do with the Jewish people, makes this a very joyous day. We must give thanks to Hashem for the goodness and the kindness whether we are sitting here in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, the settlements, and every single place in Israel. We are not in Berlin, Utah, New York, Australia, or any other place in the world. We must see the glass half full, not half empty. We must see the good that has been done in Israel in all these years, and not the bad. We must see what we have gained and now what we wish to gain still. Hashem wants people to have gratitude for the things that He gives us. It is written that Hashem wants us to have gratitude for the Egyptians who enslaved us, and hurt us and harmed us for so many years. Why? Because we lived in their land, and they let us stay there. Despite the fact that they brutally attacked and harmed us daily, Hashem says you must show gratitude to the Egyptians that gave you a place to stay.
If this is so, concerning the Egyptians, who were so awful, how could this not be true about the Jewish nation and the Jewish land? Have we not have been living here for 75 years under our own reign? Jewish reign, Jewish army, Jewish government. Yes, there are flaws everywhere because we have not been fully redeemed yet. But this is our homeland. Our forefathers lived here, walked here, died here, blessed Hashem here. They did everything in their power to serve G-d in this land.
The two temples were built in this land. This is the land that the third Temple will be built in, that G-d will dwell in. This is the place that all the redemption of the whole Jewish nation after so many thousands of years will take place. How could we not have appreciation and thanks on this day to Hashem, who reunited us and let us come back to this country as a nation. We must not let the shortcomings and the downfalls of this government, cloud or blind our eyes from the great gift that we were given 75 years ago. We must have gratitude to Hashem for being able to sit and live in this land, the holy land of Israel, and not in any other place in the world.
I stand tall and proud to be part of the Jewish nation In Israel in Jerusalem for 75 years. And may we merit, on this holy day, for the full redemption in Israel soon. Amen.