November 29, 1947…a day that will live forever in the hearts of the Jewish people. My father recited the prayer of Shehecheyanu, giving thanks to Almighty God that he had lived to see this miraculous day. “If you will it, it is no dream”, proclaimed Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism. We willed it for two thousand years and we lived to see the dream realized. On that day, Jews all over the world wept tears of great joy.
My mother kissed the photo of Henrietta Szold, founder of the Hadassah organization which provided hospital and medical care and safe haven for youth who made Aliyah from the ruins of Europe.
We joined with all our neighbors in the streets dancing wild horas, clapping hands and chests, singing (more like shouting) “Am Yisrael Chai”, the people (or nation) of Israel lives. And after the frenzy, all voices joined in singing Hatikvah, the Zionist anthem which was to become the national anthem of our newborn resurrected ancient homeland now called The State of Israel.
The last line of the Zionist anthem had now been changed from “Lashuv l’aretz, aretz avotainu, l’ir ba David, David chana”. (I used to wonder who Chana was) to “lihiyot am chofshi b’artzainu, eretz Tzion v’Yerushalayim (to be a free people in our homeland, the land of Zion and Jerusalem).
Words can be changed but never the love of a people for its historic homeland. After two thousand years of wandering in exile from country to country, often abused, persecuted and murdered, we were now a free people returning home.
The Arab inhabitants of the country took up arms against a defenseless population but with the help of goodwill nations such as Czechoslovakia, we received a supply of weapons and ammunition, sufficient to hold off the Arabs until more aid arrived from other friendly countries.
Holocaust survivors who arrived in the country on illegal ships while the British Mandate authorities still administered the country, were recruited immediately into the Defense Forces of the Haganah. Many of them had never held a gun or a rifle. Most of them did not understand nor speak a word of Hebrew and were unable to follow commands. But the Rock of Israel (Tzur Yisrael) guided them and they helped to dispel the murderous Arabs from continuing attacks.
War and destruction continued on a daily basis prior to the May 14, 1948 Declaration of Independence, the official birthdate of the Jewish State of Israel, our rebirth of national freedom after two thousand years following the destruction of our Holy Temple and Holy City of Jerusalem by the Roman Legions in the year 70 C.E.
Seven Arab nations sent their armies to destroy us. But the God of Israel once again sent our enemies bleeding, wounded and dead from the battlefields. And once again we shouted “Am Yisrael Chai”.
No other nation in history has risen up from the ashes to be reborn.
No other language that was “dead” for two thousand years has been reborn as a modern spoken tongue. The tongue of the ancient prophets of Israel can be heard today in the market-places, homes, schools, streets in every single corner of our country. Curses that were once shouted in Arabic are now shouted in Hebrew. All proof that we are alive and flourishing on the ancient soil of our modern homeland.
November 29, 1947… 70 years ago today… will live in our hearts as a date OF BLESSING AND ETERNAL FAITH.
The dreams of the dreamers have been fulfilled. “Am Yisrael Chai”.
The people and nation of Israel lives…and will go on living unto eternity. Ken yehi ratzon. So may it be!