This month, Jews celebrate Passover, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli Memorial Day, and Israeli Independence. In many ways, these holidays, more so than any other represent what being Jewish means in 2018. We remember what we as a people endured in generations past. We remember the costs of overcoming our challenges and of the real world miracles that helped us along the way. We remember times of oppression and celebrate the joys of freedom.
We are also of a generation in which more and more Jews never faced the challenges of persecution and oppression that our ancestors faced, never saw the miracles of survival and triumph over evil, perhaps never even heard about them from anyone who did see them, and view the modern Jewish state almost solely in the context of today’s news blurbs in American media outlets which are mostly negative coverage about its policies or actions viewed from a distance, absent any history or nuance. It doesn’t help, of course, that sometimes the criticism is obvious and necessary. But without understanding the positives, negatives will often rule the day.
This April, remember more that the daily news. Remember also the story of the Jews, the history of our people. Yes, there are political conflicts in Israel. There are social issues that we would like to see changed. There are leaders whom we may not wish to be leaders there. There are problems that we are frustrated are not being solved in the ways in which we would like to see them resolved and certainly not with the urgency many of us believe they deserve. But we have the special privilege of living in an age when we get to complain about how a state of the Jewish people governs. For nearly two thousand years, our people’s most cherished desire was "Next Year in Jerusalem!" We are of a generation in which that wish is achievable at any time with a plane ticket and a bus ride.
Hag Pesach v’Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach!
Happy Passover and Israeli Independence Day!
Rabbi David Kaufman