Chag Haatzmaut – think/practice document

Chag Haatzmaut – think/practice document

A 23-page document complete with exercises and text study, helping you rethink Israel celebration in the light of the Jewish festival calendar.

Click here for the printable pdf.

Planning for Yom Ha’atzmaut is more challenging than many other chagim, because it is a festival in process. The State of Israel was only created just over 6 decades ago, and many would argue it is still in creation! This celebration of the establishment of the State of Israel, and of the Jewish People gaining sovereignty in the land of Israel – this festival is still “struggling to be born” (Greenberg).

Though certain elements have begun to establish themselves – Yom HaZikaron on the previous night, the announcement of the Israel Prizes for achievement and the Bible Quiz in Israel, community-wide celebrations in the Diaspora – on the whole there is no consensus on what must or should happen throughout Yom Ha’atzmaut, in the Diaspora or in Israel. As a result, planning Yom Ha’atzmaut often seems daunting. We either find ourselves having to invent the wheel every year, or returning to past events that don’t always seem to have the resonance and the symbolism that we feel they should.

Rather than starting from scratch, we believe we can greatly benefit from learning about those chagim in our Jewish calendar that found their stable form centuries ago. Are there any aspects of these chagim that can help us when approaching Yom Ha’atzmaut? Can we, in effect, turn Yom Ha’atzmaut into Chag Ha’atzmaut – turn Independence Day into the Jewish Festival of Independence?

This document takes you through three stages.

  • An analysis and study of the way in which the chagim embody a central metaphor through three key elements. (Many thanks to Shalom Orzach and Abbi Adest for their help in this section.)
  • An exploration of the way Chag Ha’atzmaut’s central metaphor might play out for North American Jewry.
  • Applying the key elements of the chagim to Chag Ha’atzmaut programming.

Can we reassess the way our community celebrates Israel?

Is it possible for us to reimagine Yom Ha’atzmaut as a Jewish festival, a chag, rather than a secular birthday? What if our Israel celebration walked from Yom HaShoah to Yom Ha’atzmaut? What if the days in between these two monumental events in Jewish history were filled with reflection, anticipation, activity and celebration leading up to the commemorative day itself?

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