Israel is more beautiful now than ever before

Independence Day reflections of a Lone Bat Sherut

These last seven months, for those of us both in and outside of Israel, have been some of the most difficult in our history. Our collective loss has been profound, and the individual losses so many of us have had to face are unthinkable. The pain has been more overwhelming than what could ever be expressed in words alone.

That being said, this year on Yom Ha’atzmaut, I believe there is cause to celebrate like never before. In fact I can, with confidence, assert that I have never been as certain of the success of the establishment of the Jewish State as I am at this very moment; in the unity, prosperity and genuine concern for the individual that it harbours at its very core.

My decision to move to Jerusalem at the age of eighteen from placid, lovely, suburban London was one fraught with fears and unknowns. What ended up coming about was that the answers to all my questions, all of those unknowns, presented themselves to me through my year of Sherut Leumi (non- military National Service).

Whilst my intention was to undertake a year of service and do my part for my new home, I discovered instead Israel continually revealing to me her diverse, infinite realms of beauty. This year has been humbling and awe-inspiring, and I would like to share my most notable revelations with you.

The first half of my year of service I spent working in Rav Kook’s old house in central Jerusalem. I was immediately immersed in the wondrous idealism of the father of Religious Zionism. I conducted tours for people of all backgrounds: from non-Jewish university students writing their dissertations, to individuals in the process of converting to Judaism, to ultra-orthodox Lakewood Yeshiva students. In doing so, I came to understand and see realised the basic principles that Rav Kook understood the State of Israel to be based upon: love for the land (Ahavat Yisrael) and unconditional love for each other (Ahavat Am Yisrael). I found myself further and further taken aback by the genuine display of unity I discovered in the interest of every visitor that arrived. Each person had valuable, unique insight to offer and, without exception, treated the legacy and ambition of Rav Kook with respect and admiration. Despite the wildly different and, in many cases, opposing ideas and ideologies of those who visited, everyone was united in the dream of establishing a state that fostered community, resilience and most of all, harmony.

I understood quickly that Israel homes a strikingly diverse demographic, and this has come to be a characteristic I personally have fallen in love with. There is beauty in difference, and working in Rav Kook’s house caused me to realise that when paired with unity and respect, it is precisely this kind of beauty that can enable prosperity.

For the last six months I have been working with children with Autism. The more I learnt, the more amazed I was at the infrastructure in this country, deliberately designed to foster a cohesive community and to keep individuals connected. The infrastructure to support those who need support is simply built- in.
To illustrate this point, in Jerusalem alone there are almost twenty kindergartens specifically for children on the Autism spectrum, categorised and organised by the level of function of the children. There are extra benefits for those who work with children with special needs and education days organised by the council. These bring kindergarten teachers together and enhance the environment being provided for the children and their families. I cannot ever forget the genuine friendships and community that exist and the way that even people who work on opposite ends of the city recognise and acknowledge each other.

This society we have built is one that understands the needs of the individual and does the most, more than I’ve ever seen, to cater to them and ensure they are fulfilled. The thought and concern that each person is conditioned to have for the person beside them is a remarkable display of the best of us.

There are those of you reading this who I am sure are sceptical of my romanticising of Israeli society. To you I would like to say that after all we have suffered, and in the face of all the adversity we continue to experience around the globe, it is imperative that we take a moment to simply appreciate all it is that this country stands for. We must remind ourselves that Israel is intended to represent Jewish values, and would do well to take note of all the marvellous outcomes that are the result of the pursuit of this goal.

Despite there being a ways to go, The State of Israel is well on its way to being a true manifestation of the light and goodness we have to offer as a people, after only 76 years. Now is the time, more than ever, to wear your Star of David necklace and your Kippah, loud and proud.
Those reading this on Yom Ha’atzmaut, remember that you are part of a fine people, and the establishment of a society predicated entirely upon the values of that people is an endeavour worth a great deal of celebration.

About the Author
Carmelle made aliyah to Israel in January 2023 from London, England. Following a year studying in Midreshet Harova, a seminary in the Old City, Carmelle served a year of Sherut Leumi. Carmelle is passionate about doing her part to serve Israel and in discovering the blend of modern and Jewish principles. Carmelle is on track to start her studies next year at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Related Topics
Related Posts