Recently I had the opportunity to watch a short video that celebrated sixty six years of Israeli independence. I watched as each person from young to old told of the return to Israel after three thousand years. A clip was played of the historic moment where the new modern state of Israel was established and the cheers and the dancing that broke out in the streets. At that moment at that single window into history less than seven decades ago we were once a nation again. It was declared that a Jewish state would be established in the land of Israel. And after each person told their story, they all said the same thing. Three words that though I have heard my entire life countless times never cease to make my world spin, Am Yisrael Chai.
Can anyone really, truly understand what these three words mean? I am not speaking of their translation, though that too is important I speak of the nature and feeling that these words create. There are certain things that we all as Jews know for a fact will come to pass, and things we have seen in front of our eyes. We knew that once we were placed in exile of the horrible atrocities that would befall us. Over the years millions have been murdered in cold blood and almost all the nations of the world have with all their might tried to destroy us not just physically but spiritually as well. I don’t have to begin to name each horrible situation for all you reading can name most if not all but I can tell you that we are here. I can also say that as a Jew, I am forever grateful to be born and to live in a country that allows for free speech and freedom of religion. Being an American is a source of pride for me and I am so grateful to my place of birth for giving me freedoms that people in some countries could only dream of. and yet, having a state that belongs to my people and home, I can always go back to, its an incredible thing that none of us can ever take for granted. And the fact that after over two thousand years of persecution we are still here and thriving all over the world it is the most unheard of incredible mystery. Nations have died out, fallen from history and the earth itself and yet we remain, that is something to truly take pride in
. In every prayer and every book of the Jewish people it is mentioned of the return to Zion and of course to Jerusalem. It speaks of the end of the exile and a coming together of all people in our homeland from all the corners of the earth, young and old, sick and healthy. And they came, from all over the world people came to the newly established state. A state which I may add was attacked and almost destroyed by massive and well trained Arab armies hours into its birth. It is a state that has had to defend itself on countless occasions and make heartbreaking choices in an effort to keep the peace. Israelis have built a vibrant, beautiful democratic state that functions on Jewish values and core traditions and yet is a diverse and multicultural place where many people of different ethnicities and religions live and prosper. A Jewish state, and a living, prophecy in itself. Some people, even/especially in Israel have a problem with identifying themselves as Jews, and even more so of being proud of that fact. Some even go so far as to hate, and malign other Jews or more visibly the Jewish state herself. There may be varying reasons, it is possible that they think that if they criticize other Jews, they may be left alone, it is also possible they have actually assimilated to the point where they no longer consider themselves Jews. In truth, there may be a million possibilities, but I understand none of them, being Jewish and being proud of, it is something my parents always instilled in me from such a young age. And being pro Israel and loving the country with all my heart and soul is a choice that while my parents encouraged this I 100 % got to make it on my own. And I hope that one day it will be a choice that more Jews choose not only only to love Israel, but to take an interest in our culture and our history. In time I pray that more Jews will be proud to stand up and say that they are Jewish.
On another note, Happy Jerusalem Day to all of you, on this incredible day Jerusalem was united once more and while this may not be a national holiday in countries aside from Israel, it is definitely something to celebrate and our holy sites, including the Kotel and the Temple Mount were once again in our hands, and while most of the holy sites are accessible hopefully one day all will be able to pray on the Temple Mount without discrimination or fear of incitement. Let us all pray and stand up to ensure that our beautiful, wonderful capital is never divided ever again
Am Yisrael Chai