Several years ago I was fortunate to be leading a congregational trip to Israel during the powerful period of observances that link Yom Ha’Shoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day to Yom Ha’Zikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day and Yom Ha’Aztmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. While I had experienced this intense series of observances during past sojourns when I had lived in Israel for extended periods of time, this visit was marked by a new experience that added a thick ritual layer to these sacred civic observances; Shabbat Tekumah-the Shabbat of Revival.
This newer ritual takes place in Israeli synagogues, not in the public square. It is marked by liturgy, poetry and song. I experienced Shabbat Tekumah in a Progressive (i.e. Reform) synagogue; I am not sure if Shabbat Tekumah rituals are held in Orthodox or Haredi synagogues, however, I was so moved by what I experienced in that setting that I’ve incorporated this newer ritual into our Shabbat service.
This year we are blessed to be joining our friends from Temple Menorah and Congregation Ner Tamid for community observances of Yom Ha’Shoah and Yom Ha’Atzmaut at their synagogues. However, we need to mark these days within our own sacred space as well. That is why tonight, during our Shabbat service, we will take some time to commemorate that extraordinary period in the history of the Jewish people.
It is hard to believe that we are just three generations removed from arguably two of the most seminal historical events in our entire history which occurred within the same decade. Hitler killed six million of us and tried to destroy the entire Jewish people during the Holocaust; just three years after Hitler’s death and the end of World War II, the State of Israel was established marking the first time a Jewish sovereign nation had existed in two thousand years.
Yom Ha’Shoah, Yom Ha’Zikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut are more civic in nature than religious. Shabbat Tekumah provides a more liturgical framework to mark this moment that still is embedded in the consciousness of many who witnessed the horror and the triumph with their own eyes.
Join us tonight at 7:30 p.m. as we take time during our Shabbat service to remember the Six Million and celebrate Israel’s independence.
Rabbi Charles K. Briskin