Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration in the city of Efrat, Judea, Apr. 18, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90) (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Yom Ha'atzmaut Efrat

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Never again will Jews be defenseless against those who would attempt to annihilate them!

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

For some people, it’s not exactly clear what we celebrate on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Of course, we are celebrating the establishment of the modern Jewish state after 2000 years of exile, but there is much, much more.

For example, we are celebrating Jewish survival. After the Holocaust, things were bleak, to say the least. The Holocaust was yet another event in history in which helpless Jews were massacred in the countries where they lived just for being Jewish. Indeed, for 2000 years the nations of the world have treated Jews with persecution, pogroms, crusades, inquisitions, and more. So we decided to say goodbye to such hospitality and come home!

After the Holocaust, starving concentration camp survivors were among those who managed to fight off many powerful armies and establish the State of Israel. In other words, the state represents a recovery from a “near death” experience. It was so clearly an act of God that even the atheists cannot explain it. Never again will Jews be defenseless against those who would attempt to annihilate them.

We are celebrating a mitzvah (Torah commandment) that for 2000 years could not be performed, namely, to settle the Land of Israel! The Jewish state represents the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of living in Israel. Until the establishment of the state, Jews were turned away from the borders of the Land of Israel. Furthermore, approximately 200 of the 613 commandments in the Torah can be performed only in the Land of Israel. Thus the State represents an opportunity to perform so many more mitzvot.

A mezuzah is a piece of parchment inscribed with specified verses from the Torah, written by a recognized scribe, rolled up and placed in an often-decorative case before being placed on the doorposts of Jewish homes and businesses. In Israel, there is a mezuzah on every public building. Jewish holidays are national holidays. McDonald’s is kosher. Every neighborhood must have a synagogue according to national law.

In Israel, there are over 300 days of sunlight. Twenty-one-year-old Jewish boys are operating 20-million-dollar airplanes. Men can wear a kippah (skullcap) in the street without fear. The best hummus in the world is available. The Bible is real. God’s presence is stronger. There are beautiful beaches, wonderful museums, first-class wineries. And so much more!

So, as for me personally, I’m celebrating a lot more than 70 years of statehood. I’m essentially celebrating the redemption of the Jewish People as foretold by the prophets of Israel! (And the hummus…)

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