Where were you?

Sometime miracles happen around us and we are completely oblivious to them.  Sometimes they are discreet occurances that come and go in a flash.  Sometimes they are long and slow climatic changes that are so gradual, and from within we are so immersed, that they escape detection.

The modern State of Israel, and everything about it, is one of those miracles that some people see as very evident, and some people competely miss.  Further to this, there are people that know and understand the miracle of Israel and appreaciate it through expressions of gratitude every day, and there are other people who can see it, but just cannot help themselves from abusing it.   That may be through rejecting the validity of Israel as a Jewish homeland, or using Zionism as a surrogate substitute for Judaism, or trading the security of Jewish lives with the illusion of unobtainable peace.

Whatever your viewpoint, and whereever you are, it is a fact that Midenat Israel is 60 years old today.  It is a fact that the nation has accomplished incredible progress.  It is a fact that the military of the country have successfully defended it.  It is a fact that its high tech economy is amongst the world leaders and that the shekel is within the top 20 currencies in terms of its strength.  It is a fact that Israel has done all it can to avoid confrontation with its enemies, and can stand morally proud of its record, even when this is distorted and misrepresented.

There has been a lot posted on the internet over the past 24 hours defending the record of Israel.  Its not hard to do, its just that in today’s media climate, so many people just do not want to hear.  Truth of the matter is Israel does not need to justify to anybody its sovereign rights.  Any country in the world that could boast Israel’s accomplishments of 60 years of development, amidst an existential threat, and the freedom and liberty that is offered within that society, is a country worth supporting.

So how did we celebrate Yom Haatzmaut in Perth?  On Sunday there was a concert and a “picnic” at the University of Western Australia.  It was a moderate, but relatively low turnout, and as usual the State Zionist Council missed an opportunity to make all of Perth know that Israel is 60 and that the Zionist community is proud.  An insular and expensive concert is a model that continues to be pushed into our calendar as the mode of celebration for Yom Haatzmaut, but maybe its time for a rethink and a different style of celebration.  I give the State Zionist Council four out of ten for effort, but sadly, I think they failed to deliver the community a 60 years of Israel celebration in a more momentous way. 

On Yom Haatzmaut itself, a new and unique Zionist expression emerged.  Organised by the Bnei Akiva Shlichim, the Perth Yeshiva bachurim, and other Israeli’s, the entire community was invited to a Maariv Hagigit at Carmel School.  Around 150 people, possibly more, davened together.  A youth program followed, whilst the adults moved on to have a panel discussion about the redemptive significance of the modern Jewish State. 

I attended both events, and found more meaning and expression in the religious activities on the chag itself.  I also hope that the strength of religious zionism within Jewish Perth, now stronger than ever, continues to grow in stature. 

So where were you? Was Yom Haatzmaut just another day?  Did you stop to notice the miracle, or did it pass you by?  Were you home watching Big Brother on TV and wilting your brain, when you could have been conversing with Hashem?  Maybe you were practicing virtual pole dancing on Wii?    Maybe you even stopped in for a while, but then went home to watch Underbelly like Dovid Hamelech (who will be outed if he doesn’t start blogging soon). 

If you missed the celebration, and the significance of Yom Haatzmaut, then you are oblivious to the miracle of our time.  If you cannot see the redemptive qualities that Israel delivers to the Jewish people, then you are blind to your heritage.  If you cannot motivate yourself to be a part of it, then you are denying yourself an entire destiny.

Wishing Israel a Happy Birthday, and the gift of the ingathering of exiles.

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