Thursday, May 8, 2008

Yom Ha’atzmaut

It is significant that Yom Ha’atzmaut follows Yom HaZikaron; from our humble beginnings we have created a modern, democratic state. As always in Judaism, happiness is always tinged with sadness. Shimon Peres mentioned in his speech yesterday that Israel has lost , “…wonderful generations of tomorrow. We have lost our beloved children”. I don’t often agree with Peres’ words, but he does at times capture the moment. If only our ‘lost children’ could have had the chance to live and enjoy Israel today.

After a day of sirens, ceremonies and sorrow Israel got up, dusted herself down and got on with the business of celebrating her 60th birthday.

Last night we had a communal celebration - bouncy castles, flags, food and music. Today we continued our celebrations and, like most Israelis, went to a barbecue with friends.

There is so much to be proud of in Israel. A small country, the size of Wales, Israel has produced disproportionate advancements in the scientific, agricultural, technical, medical and other fields. There is an entrepreneurial spirit here, a ‘can do’ attitude, an arrogance, that applied in the right direction is a key attribute to success.

On Yom Ha’atzmaut it is important to not only celebrate all that the State of Israel has become, but to dwell on the fact that we are so blessed to have a state at all.

For 2000 years Jews prayed towards a Jerusalem over which they did not reign. For me the most effective reminder of the sanctity of Israel is to recall all those generations before us who yearned for so long to have a Jewish homeland. The words of Hatikva, (‘The Hope’) our national anthem, sum up the loss felt for so long. It evokes feelings of gratitude that Israel exists today as the only Jewish state in the world. For all the bad press she gets, for all the political ineptitude and corruption, Israel still makes me surge with pride.


As long as deep in the heart,
The soul of a Jew yearns,
And forward to the East
To Zion, an eye looks
Our hope will not be lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

Sharona B