Nine Days of We
In this wonderful short interview, Avram Infeld lays out a vision for understanding Yom Ha’atzmaut as part of a process that begins on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, 9 days before Yom Ha’atzmaut.
With this inspiring vision in mind, we offer a variety of programming that might be appropriate for this period in the Jewish calendar.
Cross-posted with ejewishphilanthropy
Yom Ha’atzmaut? Again? This year of all years?
Whenever I approach Yom Ha’atzmaut with a sinking feeling, I always remember the point made by Professor Yosef Klausner:
“For three hundred and sixty-four days of the year we are busy with criticism. We criticize the nation’s priorities, and the nation’s leaders. We count the many mistakes that our leaders and ministers make… But a nation must have one day in a year that is a real celebration. On that single solitary day, all the prosecutions must cease, and the harsh criticism must stop…”
Klausner wrote these words back in 1953, when the State of Israel was only 5 years old!
So what is it that we should be celebrating on this one day?
Ideally Yom Ha’atzmaut should mark one of the most significant events in Jewish history. It is an event packed with meaning for Jews throughout the world, not just in Israel.
But what is the nature of that “meaning”?
We can’t even come up with a shared narrative.
When does the Israel story begin? 1948? The Dreyfuss Trial? The destruction of the Second Temple? Abraham’s journey?
Would you say that the Holocaust should be part of our Yom Ha’atzmaut narrative? If you have an unequivocal answer to that question, I assure you that you have a friend who would answer the opposite.
For the first time in two thousand years, ever since May 14th, 1948, we have been able to answer all Four Hatikvah Questions with a resounding “Yes!”
To Be? – Yes!
Peoplehood? – Yes!
Free? – Yes!
In Our Land? – Check!
In this brilliant illustration, Shay Charka marks the nine-day roller-coaster between Yom HaShoah, and Yom Ha’atzmaut. Just imagine what answers we might have reached to the Four Hatikvah Questions in 1945…
Do we now share questions about threats to our ongoing existence? Certainly. The desperate arguments will wait for one day.
Do we disagree about the ways in which our heritage, solidarity, and values are expressed? Sure. Let’s put the disagreements on temporary hold.
Are we concerned about Israel’s democratic structures and discourse?
Do we agree on the borders of our Land? On relations with the Palestinians, who say it is their Land too?
All crucial questions. We’ll talk about them on the other 364 days.
Imagine a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration that chose to focus on these four blessings. The songs, the dances, the speeches, the parties, the performances, that celebrate the four-fold answer of “yes”.
Yom Ha’atzmaut is the day on which the Four Hatikvah Questions turn into exclamation marks.
Shay Charka perfectly illustrates the nine-day emotional roller-coaster from Holocaust Day (Yom HaShoah) thru Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron), to Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut).
Yom HaZikaron is often a complicated ceremony to program outside of Israel. Local Israelis in the community will often feel the need to share their unique feelings on the one hand, and yet find themselves questioning the possibility that non-Israelis might fully understand them on the other hand. Non-Israelis will often feel the need to share in the ceremony and identify fully, whilst at the same time feeling emotionally detached or even alienated. It is a very sensitive day!
We share with you a ceremony that we created for JW3 in London, with the help of the animation films made by Bet Avi Chai. We looked to build a ceremony that placed its emphasis on the pain and loss of the civilian survivors, and less on the war-time experience of the fighters. In this way we believe there is more potential for a shared emotional common ground.
In this session we explore the price a people pays in order to be Free in their Own Land. From the battle of Tel Hai onwards, the Jewish People in the Land of Israel decided they would no longer flee for their lives: they would stay and fight for their land. In this sense, Israel’s freedom from attack is inextricably bound to the army, and to its losses. How does a country face its pain? In Israel a collective grief is explored and commemorated through awe-inspiring art and culture that both bows the head and straightens the shoulders.
What was the musical symbol – the anthem – that Israel chose for itself? In what way is it like other nation’s anthems, and in what way is it different? Does Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, serve its unifying and symbolic purpose?
In this session we explore where our appreciation of Am, of Peoplehood, intersects with our desire for economic freedom – freedom to make a living, and freedom from poverty. We also explore whether our allegiances alter according to where someone may live (B’Artzenu). At the same time we deepen the connection between these issues and our Jewish identity and values, and finally point to inspirational work being done in Judaism’s name in Israel.