On the 29th of November, 1947, a 2000-year-old dream became reality: A Jewish State was born anew in its ancient homeland.
Meanwhile, much further south in the world at the Florence Nightingale nursing home in Johannesburg, South Africa at 15.55 my mother Zara entered the world. The dream of parenthood was fulfilled for my grandparents.
The significance was not lost on my late Grandfather, Isidore Sloot, who I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet.
As a volunteer for the South African Air Force, he fought in East and North Africa, as well as Malta, Sicily, and Italy during the Second World War.
On a brief visit to British-occupied Palestine from his station in Egypt in 1941, he visited Bethlehem and sent a message home. “Here I am in the town where Christ was born, I wish to Christ I was back in the town where I was born!”
In 1942 he and his squadron fled from Rommel and at the end of the war he was awarded the 1939 – 1945 Star, the Africa Star, the Italy Star, the Defense Medal, the War Medal, and the Africa Service Medal.
How I wish I could have asked him what it felt like on that Saturday afternoon 76 years ago.
The joy of becoming a father and the significance of living at a time in history when his service and fighting against the Germans brought to fruition the age-old dream of a Jewish state becoming a reality.
I wonder if all of those who sat around the table and voted for UNO Resolution 181 could possibly have known what would transpire. All the pride, the hope, and the years of hard work in building a thriving state. And the fragility that has always existed which we are currently witnessing.
Could he ever have imagined that his daughter, her children, and grandchildren would fulfill their dreams of living in this ancient homeland? Would he believe that anti-semitism which he battled as a soldier would never die and return with such force to a world that desperately seeks peace, understanding, and acceptance?
Well, here I am dear Grandpa Isi, honoring your daughter, my mother, and Israel on their 76th birthday.
I pray that this significant date can bring with it a flow of Brocha from above for peace, security, a return of the hostages, healing for all, comfort for those in mourning, and a celebration of life!
Mazel tov and Le’Chaim
Am Yisrael Chai