Zootropolis, Politicians and Yom HaAtzmaut — yes, you heard me right

Recently I saw the movie Zootropolis. (And I highly recommend it — for any age!)

One of the many hilarious scenes was when the fox was prepping the bunny for a press conference in front of journalists and TV reps. The bunny was scared; how would she answer their questions?

The fox gave her a formula to use and use it she did! And I think every politician who walks this earth does as well.

It goes like this:

The public asks a question.

You answer the question with your own question that has a common denominator to their question, but is different. Then you answer your own question… and everyone nods and is satisfied.

This was the fox’s advice and Trump will tell you it works. How do you think he got this far?

So it looks something like this.

“Sir, do you think Iran will use nuclear weapons on Israel in the next 18 months?”

“Well, do I think Iran is a danger to society at large and specifically — possibly — to Israel? Yes, that would be a yes. Next question.”

And all the journalists quote him, record the statement, write it down, and nod in agreement.

Phew, this politician says, that was a close one.

And there it is. The answer of how to deal with the Yom HaAtzmaut craze-controversy.

Over the years I have played ping-pong with myself on this day. Reading about it, asking, questioning, debating, not caring, ignoring, celebrating, really celebrating, and everything in between on this subject. Funny, because I had no problem celebrating July 4th every year, my entire life, in the USA, but Yom HaAtzmaut — whoa there, lady, you’d better think twice before joining in your neighbor’s BBQ. If you eat that hamburger — just think what the other neighbors will think.

Or worse — what about your unborn child’s shidduchim? Do you want to jeopardize your children’s future over a hot dog?

Or better — please believe fervently in NOT celebrating this anti-religious holiday that’s based on anti-religious beliefs. Then go and enjoy your day off of work and celebrate however you see fit, because after all, no matter how hard you try to be against this philosophically, it is a national holiday which means YOU WILL HAVE A NICE DAY WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.

So let’s try this political genius theory on the topic — shall we?

Picture this. If I were a politician and standing at the podium, and someone were to ask me:

“Ma’am, do you think people should say Hallel on Yom HaAtzmaut?”

I would answer:

“Do I think Hallel is a beautiful tefillah to be recited on holy days? Yes, yes I do. And do I believe Yom HaAtzmaut is a day to be acknowledged as a day on the calendar when living in Israel? That would be an affirmative.

Next question.”

See that? It worked. I got around the controversial question by stating two facts that are true, have no correlation, the crowd is satisfied and they don’t even realize I didn’t answer their question. So the answer is: Who the heck knows the answers to these unanswerable questions?

Neturei Karta might say: burn the flag on Yom HaAtzmaut (and every day). Pass me a match.

The Chilonim might say: Raise that flag, it’s another reason to party! Pass me another beer.

The Chassidim might say: Keep yeshivas open, keep the other doors closed, don’t look at the celebrations and just pretend we don’t know what the flag looks like. Pass the kugel.

The American-confused-religious might say: I can’t make the BBQ at my place cuz, well, you know…but whose BBQ can we come to? Pass the ketchup.

The Shtark Mizrachim might say: Raise that flag and sing Hodu LaHashem Ki Tov and Hallel will be recited with a bracha right after Shacharit, followed by a Beit Knesset BBQ with a break for a shiur on the topic of Yom HaAtzmaut, followed by Mincha. Chag Samayach! Pass the Siddur.

The Dati Leumi might say: Basically the same as above, but a bit less dramatic and at a lower pitch voice volume. Pass the flag with the Siddur.

The Chardal chevra might say: Hallel. Ya, why not? As long as you don’t say a bracha. Or a bracha without Hashem’s real name in it. Pass the Gemara for my Daf Yomi, and oh, pass me a hamburger too while you’re at it.

The Chareidim say: We’re taking the low-down today and having pizza. Well, simply for the reason I hate when my clothes smell like smoke, so I’ll pass, but thanks. And you wave that flag! I get it. Wave it hard! Just from over theeeere. Cuz here, it’s not okay. Pass me another slice.

Get it?

But there is one definite absolute true fact: Once a year, on 5 Iyar, which is one day, one small country, with millions of opinions and thousands of different takes on this subject, will celebrate, (or not), get together (or not) and have a joyous BBQ with family (or not) about the fact that Israel became its own Jewish state in 1948. There will probably be music because it’s a holiday (or not, because it’s Sefirat HaOmer!). There will be thanks to G-d (or not, because they might not even believe in G-d) and maybe Hallel (or not, or yes without a bracha, or yes with a bracha without Hashem’s name , or yes with a bracha and Hashem’s name). There will be hot dogs and hamburgers for all (but you can choose not to eat them) and no matter who you are, what you stand for or what your religious affiliation is, YOU WILL ENJOY the fireworks. Because that is something no one can be against.

When we go around stating our opinions, asking our questions, hoping they sound rhetorical, but clearly pointing fingers with a critical question mark at the end, let’s remember: every Jew needs at least two shuls in his or her neighborhood so there is the shul to go to and the Shul to NEVER walk into. That’s a fact of Judaism. Take the course: Jews Are Crazy 101. Room 613.

And the same goes here.

So back to our formula that seems to be working so far:

“Ma’am, do you believe all Israelis should celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, no matter what their religious affiliation might be?”

“Thanks Amos, for your question. Do I think Yom HaAtzmaut is a day to be recognized by those who choose to believe it needs to be recognized? Absolutely. Do I believe it is not a crime to have freedom of choice in regards to whether a person wants to actively celebrate this day or not? Yes, the answer is yes. Do I think that people should be criticized for not wanting to celebrate? Well, Amos, let’s just say, I don’t believe in criticism in general about anything. It’s bad for the heart. (Smile broadly with confidence). Next question.”

And with that, everyone is satisfied. Bomb defused.

By now you must be wondering, is Yom HaAtzmaut a holiday I celebrate?

I’ll answer like this:

Do I believe when I am living in a country that has marked an Independence Day on its calendar, I should acknowledge it how I see fit? Yes, oh yes.

Do I see it is a day on par with Yom Kippur or Purim? No, that’s a no.

Do I know that the founders of Israel were anti-religious and that the holiday was established with anti-Torah ideas? Un-huh. I do.

Do I believe that by eating a hot dog on this day I am transgressing the Torah in any shape or form? Nope.

Do I believe one should say Hallel? Well, saying some extra Tehillim is always a nice idea, and saying thanks and being grateful is always good. Absolutely.

Do I think it’s okay to burn garbage cans, not accept government money for children’s education, rage at Zionism like it’s Communism or Socialism….and then enjoy the day off at the park because it’s a national holiday, so why the heck not? Hell NO.

Do I believe everyone must be the same on this matter? Never. It would put Judaism, as an occupation, out of business.

Do I think people should consult with their rav and do what they see fit for their families and lifestyle? Yes

So am I going to celebrate?

In short, I am not hanging a flag on my car, but that might be because I don’t have a car. (We’ll never know, will we?!) But I am hanging a flag of deep gratitude to Hashem in my heart.

“Thank you Hashem that we have a place to live that is ours! And even with all its craziness, problems between Jews, debates, polar-ism, terror and insanities (and a lot of that has its dose of sadness), the Jewish people were able to have a country of its own only three years after 6 million Jews perished. Today, I look around at yeshivas, Egged, the army, Start-up nation, produce, the view from my porch, my job, being able to buy Costco products and so much more and I feel so appreciative that Israel is a country that I am honored, truly honored, to live in. I wouldn’t trade living here for anything, so I might as well take a day to say thank you. I am not kissing Herzl’s toes here, and the ikkar isn’t a BBQ or beer, but I am simply saying thank you G-d for the opportunities we have TODAY, here, right now.

“Ma’am, are you celebrating this Thursday?”

“Well, Dudu, will I be singing G-d’s praises on Thursday like I do every day and possibly eating a hamburger? That would be a yes, Dudu. A big loud YES.

Next question.”

About the Author
Sarah Bechor is a freelance writer in addition to her full-time job as a content writer. She made Aliyah in 2007 and now lives with her husband and 4 children in Gush Etzion.