Israel Ready for Retirement…..NOT!

By Sherwin Pomerantz

 Tonight, throughout Israel, as we end the observance of Memorial Day for the Fallen, we begin the celebration of Israel’s 65th year of independence.  Over 8 million people now living in a country where, just 65 years ago, there were but 800,000.

Aveinu Shebashamayim…Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the first manifestation of the approach of our redemption.

With all its faults, and what country does not have them, Israel has defied all of the odds, providing an opportunity for the Jewish people to return home after 2,000 years of wandering in foreign lands and built a high-tech based society that clearly surpasses what anyone could have dreamed of on that day in May, 1948 when Ben Gurion read our declaration of independence.

Shield it with Your loving kindness, envelop it in Your peace, and bestow Your light and truth upon its leaders, ministers, and advisors, and grace them with Your good counsel.

In the face of enemies on all sides sworn to our destruction, with few natural resources, limited water supplies and with half the country a desert, we pulled ourselves up from our bootstraps, fought multiple wars to ensure our security and found a way to make it possible for the grandchildren of an immigrant society to be world leaders in just about every field of human creativity.  

Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in a mantle of victory.

But we also paid a heavy price. 23,085 of our finest young people, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, and friends, have died over the last 65 years in the name of securing the land of Israel for the people of Israel and all those who seek to live with us in peace.

Ordain peace in the land and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness. Lead them, swiftly and upright, to Your city Zion and to Jerusalem, the abode of Your Name, as is written in the Torah of Your servant Moses: “Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you.

Today, 65 years later, for the first time in 2,000 years, a majority of the Jews of the world live in Israel, making the dream of returning to Zion, for which we prayed, and still pray, three times a day, a reality.

And the Lord your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers.”

We have yet much more to do.  This country is not without its problems, our policies are not without their blemishes, our interactions with our neighbors are not perfect and our future remains under threat.  While we know that many of our brethren both here and abroad often find fault with how we function here, all of them need to also acknowledge what has been accomplished and understand that living abroad, they too have more reasons than not to be proud of what we have built here.

Draw our hearts together to revere and venerate Your name and to observe all the precepts of Your Torah, and send us quickly the Messiah son of David, agent of Your vindication, to redeem those who await Your deliverance.

Tomorrow morning during the daily prayers of our people, Hallel, songs of praise from the Book of Psalms will be recited (actually sung with great fervor).  For years there has been an argument among the rabbinic authorities as to whether to begin that recitation with a blessing or not.  Some who argue against doing so make the point that the blessing is only appropriate when the whole of the Jewish people experienced the miracle, whereas in 1948 only a portion of our people was affected.

I would say, with all due respect to the rabbis, that, indeed, all of the Jewish people experienced the miracle, whether or not they were living here and all of us continue to experience the miracle which is played out every day in every way in this special place.  So the blessing would seem most appropriate.

Manifest yourself in the splendor of Your boldness before the eyes of all inhabitants of Your world, and may everyone endowed with a soul affirm that the Lord, God of Israel, is king and his dominion is absolute. Amen forevermore.

Let us hope as we celebrate #65, that the miracle will continue, that all of us will be able to savor the joy of having our own land for many years to come and that all of us will come to understand that, indeed, we ourselves are part of this miracle.  Chag Atzmaut Sameach…..Happy Independence Day!