David Groen
Author and Public Speaker

Today is my birthday, and Israel is my gift

From my visit to Tel-Aviv, June 2022

I could not write this unless I really felt this way. To make a statement such as this, that Israel is my gift on my birthday, and not be a genuine sentiment, would be the worst kind of virtue signaling. But in every minute of this day, as lovely as the birthday wishes from friends and family may be, I find myself truly overcome with emotion when I realize that as a Jew, I am able to have this birthday because there is a nation that has my back.

It is not uncommon to take stock on one’s birthday, identifying the things that are going right and the things that are going wrong. As someone who is notorious for analysis, self or other, I inevitably have that in my head for most of this day. But I keep going back to this. As I sit here safe and secure in my home in South Florida, there are Israeli men and women, Jewish men and women, doctors, lawyers, teachers, food servers, bartenders, construction workers, bus drivers, people from all walks of life and all professions and vocations going to battle for the safety of the State of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide. As someone who is consistently cognizant of Jewish birthdays that were ruined or lost by Jew hatred over the years, I can’t help but feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to celebrate mine in safety and as a free man.

I think of my friends and family in Israel who have children fighting against evil, literally putting their lives on the line on a daily basis. To this I say the following. If God is listening to me on my birthday I have the following plea. Please keep all our soldiers safe, bring back the hostages, and crush the evil that threatens us. Give my friends and family the strength they need to support their sons and daughter, brothers and sister, fathers and mothers fighting for our safety. What do I want for my birthday? I want the opportunity one year from now to thank God for the fact that the war is over and our threats are eliminated. I want Israel to be whole, I want the Jewish people to be whole, and subsequently the world to be a safer place. Is that too much to ask? Maybe. But it’s my birthday, and on your birthday you are allowed to ask for things.

Am Yisrael Chai

About the Author
David Groen is the youngest of 5 children and the author of "Jew Face: A Story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland". He is also the presenter of the story of Bram's Violin, the story of how his uncle's violin returned to his family over 70 years after Bram was murdered in Auschwitz.
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