Today is Israel’s 69th Independence Day.
69 years ago, the State of Israel became a reality, as the declaration of Independence was read. A citizenry, a large population of which lived through the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe, finally had some ray of hope for the future, some modern manifestation of the Divine promise, that the Jewish People will not be forgotten.
The founding of the State of Israel was guided by the hand of God. Israel is a place where the Jewish People can live without needing the “kindness” of the king, the priest , the ruler. How many countries allowed Jews to reside there based on the payment of special taxes, providing special services to the local rulers? How many places claimed to have freedom, with liberty and justice for all, but had tacit understandings that Jews were required to achieve higher scores for advanced education, that professional associations were closed to Jews?
Deep down inside, most Jews understand that they only live in diaspora countries based on the goodwill of the people. A natural disaster here, a plague there, and the Jews become the hated people, subject to pogroms, organized hate campaigns, and expulsion.
We came and continue to arrive from the four corners of the Earth, bringing with us our languages, customs cultures, tastes, and particular practices. And we argue with one another over whose customs, practices, and recipes are the best. But we are one family – no matter what we do, no matter where we live, no matter how we celebrate (or don’t celebrate) Yom ha’Atzmaut – Israel Independence Day, we are one people.
Living in the land that God gave us, well, we have the ability to grow and become what we are supposed to be – the guiding light to the nations of the world.