In our synagogue, when the hour is getting late and the congregants are getting antsy, frequently, the gabbaim (those in charge of the services) will ask me to be the chazzan and lead the services. I have been blessed with the ability to read quickly and clearly, and when the situation demands, I can lead the services and get things done quickly, with a minimum of singing and not too much fuss.
Except for Yom Ha’atzmaut.
On Israel Independence Day, when called upon to lead the services — even at the earliest minyan, whose participants are usually planning on getting in and out as quickly as possible — I attempt to sing as many of the tefillot as I can, especially those of the Hallel service.
If there is a day in which song and prayer is called for, it is Yom Ha’atzmaut. Some of us may find it difficult to relate to holidays that commemorate events which occurred thousands of years ago. Some find the passages obscure. Israel Independence Day, however, not only commemorates the events which took place in the recent past — less than 75 years ago — but those miraculous events which take place each and every day in Israel.
When we sing the Psalmist’s words — ‘Zeh HaYom Asah Hashem Nagilah V’nismicha Vo’ — ‘This is the day that God has made, let us will rejoice and be happy in it’— one cannot help but feel gratitude and thanks for the miracle of modern Israel.
On Yom Ha’atzmaut, whether one recites of Hallel with a blessing or without, whether one attends synagogue services on this day, or sleeps in, whether one lives in Jerusalem, Boca Raton, Chicago or Des Moines, we can express our appreciation for what we have.
So again this morning, as I entered the synagogue at 6:20, bleary-eyed and sleepy from last night’s holiday festivities, I was asked to lead the services. Yes, I did sing. And, miraculously, even the no-nonsense members of the usually speedy 6:25 minyan enthusiastically joined in .
And, as my friend jokingly said to me on the way out,” You used the whole song book today.” If there is ever a day to use that ‘book’, it is Yom Ha’atzmaut. Chag Sameach!