This year, Israel Independence Day was different. Our synagogues have been closed for weeks and our prayer gatherings are limited to just a few people standing on a street corner. There were no public gatherings, no popular singers on public stages. We stayed home and yet looked for ways to mark this special day.
Israel Independence Day is not only a national holiday – it is a day of spiritual rejoicing like no other. On this day we celebrate our renewal as a people, climbing up from the depths of the Holocaust and centuries of persecution and anti-Semitism, returning to the Land of our forefathers and creating a personal and national home for all Jews.
I grew up in the US, a child of privilege on the on the one hand, but with a strong Jewish identity on the other. No one chased me from my home but I was drawn to make Aliyah, eager to make my home in the one place where a Jew can truly feel at home – the Land of Israel. So for me, Israel Independence Day is a day where I sing praises to G-d, for saving our nation and for saving me, as a Jew, for leading me home and providing me with a real home to settle, a place where I could build my home and raise my children, and take part in moving G-d’s vision for my people forward, fulfilling our destiny as a nation.
So this was my Independence Day: on Tuesday night, a truck with a few merrymakers handing out prizes to the children and music blasting from the improvised sound system, made its way from neighborhood to neighborhood, as residents poured out of their houses or stood on balconies and sang and waved flags. We had a zoom party with friends who, like us, had made Aliyah, and we each recalled how we came to Karnei Shomron and how we first met each other.
The following morning, we sang the Hallel prayer in the house since the service on the sidewalk did not sing enough for my taste. We had our traditional BBQ but without the traditional friends, and watched the International Bible Contest on TV, broadcast each year on national television but this time the contestants participated electronically. And I watched TV and the TV hosts went out of their way to share pictures of families celebrating on their porches, creating a sense of togetherness even as we were all so separate.
And then I saw this clip, on television, broadcast for the entire country to see and experience. One of Israel’s most popular singers today, Omer Adam, sang a song of prayer, a song that has long been a favorite among Israelis but carried special significance today. We always ask G-d to watch over us and protect us, as individuals and as a nation. But today, in the shadow of Corona, we feel the need for that protection in a different way. We are accustomed to facing our enemies on the battlefields and in the hiding places of terrorists, but this is a totally different enemy, an enemy that only G-d can save us from.
From my home in Israel to your home wherever you may be – Happy Independence Day. Rejoice in our good fortune and join us as we thank G-d for His deliverance.
– Sondra Oster Baras
Director, Israel Office
Christian Friends of Israeli Communities