This past shabbat was Shabbat Irgun at Ariel, one of the religious youth movements in Israel. Shabbat Irgun is the culmination of Chodesh Irgun, a month of intense activities and programming. A month that includes obligatory wall painting and many many recitals for the final group performance (which is usually a choreographed dance).
I arrived a bit late at the Motzaei Shabbat celebration, which followed a Shabbat where the kids spend a lot of Shabbat together, replete with tfilot and festive Shabbat meals It was a cold Autumn evening. The kids were standing in a square. It’s hard to explain the electric energy, the daglanut (my absolute favorite thing to watch) the impassioned youth, the teenage boisterous spirit, the boys with that sparkle in their eyes, their whole lives ahead. Nothing encapsulates joeie de vivre like a happy teenager. The spirit, the exuberance, the joy. It’s something special. It gets me every time — The flags, the dancing, the fact that a new generation is growing up in this hallowed beloved land. The singing of Hatikva, our national anthem, followed by Ani Maamin. On Saturday night, I was feeling particularly emotional for no good reason. I shed actual tears, surrounded by other proud parents frantically videoing their kids on their cellphones.
The thing is that my kids have no actual clue how lucky they are to live here; they cannot begin to fathom that when we go back just a few decades, we were being massacred by the millions, and this, our beloved home, was no more than a pipe dream. Very much the Promised Land, but it was still just a promise. And now, it’s just normal. It’s home. We are blessed beyond measure that we can stroll around, attending end-of-the-year youth movement celebrations on a motzaei shabbat. To sit in an auditorium among all these Ariel families as we watch the next generation grow up before our eyes. I am blessed beyond measure. We all are.