A Free People in Our Land

Today is my favorite Jewish holiday, Israeli Independence Day. It’s the only one that’s still controversial in much of the world, and has the dubious honor of having spawned a counter-holiday–Nakba Day. Of course, they aren’t celebrated on the same day, or even the same calendar. Yom Ha’atzmaut (יום-העצמאות) falls on the fifth of the Hebrew month of Iyar, while Nakba Day ( يوم النكبة)falls on the more conventional Gregorian date of May 15. One celebrates renewal, the other loss. That both holidays could have celebrated national independence is an irony too tragic for words.

Another thing I appreciate about Yom Ha’atzmaut is that it is the only Jewish holiday besides Purim which makes no explicit reference to God, miracles (if you go back and read the megillah you’ll see for yourself), divine intervention or any hocus-pocus. It’s all ingenuity, courage and cunning: politics, in short. Of the people, by the people and for the people. In fact, it’s not even a Jewish holiday, but an Israeli holiday. It is not lost on me that there are Jews in the world who feel only a deep sense of shame and abandonment on this day. Shame on them, I say.

The best kind of explosions
The best kind of explosions

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