Happy Israel Independence Day!

Within this week’s Akhshav, you will find information regarding two community gatherings – one a commemoration, the other a celebration – related to the centrality of the State of Israel in modern Jewish life. This Tuesday night, we gather to commemorate Jews in the Land of Israel who have lost their lives to war and terror. Next day, we gather to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Israel’s 70th anniversary. Both events take place at the Jewish Community Campus. It’s worth noting that in the Jewish state, the time interval between the occasions is but a moment. Which is to say that, celebration of Independence begins the instant commemoration of lost life ends. Sadness and joy are intertwined. And really, that’s not the story just of the State of Israel; it’s a central fact of much of Jewish history. Our outlook, in a nutshell, has been and remains based on the notion that it’s important to remember the past, but vital to celebrate the present. The notion is enshrined in well-known religious law regarding mourning personal loss. Shivah is not observed during Festival time. Communal joy takes precedence over personal loss. On the eve of Israel’s 70th anniversary this Thursday, we are saddened by the personal sacrifice required by our brothers and sisters in the Jewish state. At the same time, we are gladdened by the magnificent accomplishments of Israel in her first 70 years. Of sadness there has been much. Of gladness, also much – and just a bit more! Happy Israel Independence Day!

PS: In my remarks Saturday morning, I referred to a recent development in Israel: Koolulam, massive public gatherings for communal singing of popular song. Here is video for your enjoyment.