Educationally Speaking – April 2020

Our Faith is Our Passport

Racheli Morris, Director of Education

Usually a day of happiness and celebration, Yom Ha’atzmaut is Israel’s Independence Day. It is preceded by two important events, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaShoah, Israeli Memorial Day and Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day. These events are not holidays from the Bible, but rather they are from our experiences of recent history.

The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion was known to say, “Ours is a country built more on people than on territory. The Jews will come from everywhere; from France, from Russia, from America, from Yemen… Their faith is their passport.” This means that Israel is more than just a land, that Jews from anywhere in the world connect to Israel in a special way because of a shared faith.

In this time of ‘social distance’ and a pandemic, we must remember and act upon the idea that we are more defined by our connections than ever. If there is someone in Florida who suffers, or in Lake Tahoe, we are all connected because our connection to each other is not just about distance but derived from our beliefs and actions. We have our independence due to the sacrifice of many in the past. I want to recognize the words of our prayers as a basis for our faith and a continued conversation with God that we have been having for millennia.

Blessed are you Lord, Healer of all flesh and acts wondrously. Daily, our prayers focus on much. Yearly we celebrate our Israeli Independence and realize that we do much ourselves, but our bodies are able to be healed. Our tradition attributes this to God and we recognize that the balance between our independence and dependence on one another is crucial for our survival.

The tough times will happen as they have happened in the past. The future is not bleak, but full of promise and growth. Just as the people who pioneered modern Israel came through much loss and sacrifice, the independence they earned has been wonderful. I wish each person reading this article, a happy and meaningful Yom Ha’atzmaut this year. Just as Ben Gurion saw us as a dynamic group with our faith in common, we should use our community to support ourselves through the future.