From Yom to Chag
A 14 page document exploring the way other nations celebrate a distant homeland. Can we learn from them? And can we learn from our own Jewish festivals to find a form for Yom Haatzmaut?
“Yom Ha’atzmaut is a festival that is struggling to be born,” opines R. Irving Greenberg in The Jewish Way. While there is of course an element of excitement in this image of battle and birth, there is also a hint of pain and uncertainty. Though Yom Ha’atzmaut may be celebrated with enthusiasm and commitment, it is as yet unclear what it means, what form it should take, and how one might decide. We would suggest that the struggle Greenberg refers to might be due to the difficulty of knowing where the ‘birth’ is taking place, who is the parent waiting with open arms, and what creature is due to be born.
It is our intention in this paper to suggest a way of easing the delivery. We shall suggest the root causes of the struggle that play out within Israel and in the Diaspora. According to our analysis, in the description of the problem may lie the solution: We have not yet transformed Yom Ha’atzmaut from a State’s Birthday Party into a festival of the Jewish People. We shall then play out a suggested route for developing such a Jewish festival of Independence, mapping out the ‘genetic heritage’ – the requisite form – of the new-born. Finally we shall offer some practical applications of this thinking.