This year there is a convergence of dates
- 29 November
- Thanks Giving (or what has become known as Black Friday)
- Rosh Chodesh
- (Leading into) Shabbat
So, you are wondering where this is leading to. Well, I am not American, so Thanks Giving is not that relevant on a personal level.
Well, thanksgiving is very relevant. For us Jews, thanksgiving is a daily event. We give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. We show our gratitude to our fellow man for the kindness that is given to us on a daily basis, both the big and small things. It is easy to complain, say that Life is not perfect and unjust.
Well, maybe it is, but we need to show gratitude for the events of 29 November 1947, when the United Nations voted an imperfect resolution to recognize the partition of Palestine. There were many miracles involved here and enjoyed the rare joint support of the US and the Soviets which did not last long which was replaced the cold war, the spread of communism, and Soviet support for the Arabs at the expense of Israel.
The struggle of the Jews to their historical homeland has not been easy, and even after all these years, the world has not exactly come to terms with the idea of a state of the Jews.
During this last year, I had the privilege of reading 3 books – all different in style and substance but dealing with the background leading up to this vote and the establishment of Israel.
I will start off with a series of books written by Zvi Fishman called Tevye in the promised Land which intimately portrays the successes and struggles of the Jews in Israel from around 1905 to 1940 from a Jewish perspective. See my Review of these series of Books.
These series of books are highly recommended
I then picked up 2 books from the free street libraries in Jerusalem. (As Our Rabbi said, Jerusalem is unique as one can acquire a whole high-quality Library from just walking around the streets)
I came across The Haj by Leon Uris which portrays the struggle for the control of Israel from an Arab Perspective. This is a riveting tale and provides important insights to all those who really want to know in an objective of the source of the conflict today.
And then I have started reading Abba Eban’s Autobiography which portrays first-hand the leading players including himself in the build-up to the UN resolution on the 29th November whose outcome was far from certain. In this regard, we need to have gratitude to President Truman who despite his vehemently anti-Israel State Development gave his support to State. That is the connection to thanksgiving.
So, what is special about the New month, Kislev in which Chanukah falls? Chanukah is not only about religious religion and tolerance, but the struggle for a free, independent Jewish Country with Jerusalem as its capital and the Temple as a House of Love and Prayer for all mankind.
And that is the exact struggle that we have today. We need to remember the past, tell the world that Israel is our home, a place of tolerance and peace. That we are here to stay and will not tolerate those who try to change history and our connection to the Land.
As the book the Haj demonstrates, the Arabs did not take their opportunities for peace, and their tactics led to the refugee problem that is used as a tool against Israel.
By way of contrast, the Jewish Refugees from the Arab Lands were fully integrated into Israel. By way of coincidence or not, I learned that this Shabbat is the national Day of Commemoration for the Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran. There is an initiative for synagogues around the world to say prayers in remembrance of those Jewish graves and cemeteries who do not have anyone saying prayers for them due to the Jews being expelled en masse from the Middle East and North Africa during the last century.
And why the connection to Shabbat. Shabbat is a taste of the world to come. A place beyond the strife of this world. Just like Israel is a sanctuary in place, Shabbat is a sanctuary in time.
We wish each of you a Shabbat Shalom. A Shabbat of peace.
We pray for peace, not only in Israel but for the world.
And that is why this Friday is such an opportunity to reflect on the goodness of our lives, and have empathy for those who lack something, including ourselves.