Out of Town

We moved 1000 miles away from our friends and family and just had a new baby....

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Finding a Middle Path

Today is Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel's Independance Day. In our community, there are two orthodox day schools, one that is affiliated with Torah U'Mesorah and one that proclaims itself Modern Zionist. As you can probably guess, these schools react completely differently to Yom HaAtzmaut. At the former, they pretend that today does not exist. They don't mention it, they don't do anything special, they act as though there is not even such a day as Israel Independance Day. At the latter school, they act as though this is the most important day of the year. They are having a special assembly. They are having a dinner tonight for the community. The kids have been practicing for a performance they are going to give tonight. You can bet they said Hallel this morning, and all the kids will be singing Hatikva today, probably more than once.

So which of these approaches do I take? Neither. We are Zionists. We beleive that the state of Israel is a huge bracha for Am Israel. The state is what keeps us safe. We all know, in the backs of our minds, that if need be, we can go to Israel. There can never be another Holocaust. At least in theory. We may disagree with the government. We may think they are somewhat spineless. However, we can't deny that the mere existance of the state makes all of us in galut a little safer.

I wish that the two schools could find a middle ground that was a little more sane. The right wing school should teach the kids about Israel today, about the founding, about the UN vote, about the war for Indpendance. They don't have to say Hallel, they certainly shouldn't make today on par with a yom tov from the Torah, but they should set aside a day to talk about Israel.

The Modern school, on the other hand, neeeds to remember that Yom HaAtzmaut is not THE most important holdiay of the year. They spent as much energy, if not more, preparing for this day thean for Pesach. A child could easily be confused that Zionism is Judaism, or is at lesat the equivilent. If they are going to make an assembly for this holiday, they should certainly make one for the holdiays given to us by Hashem in the Torah.

I know there are objections to having a big public celebration today, during the Omer. And it is also true that there were and are many non-religious Jews running the state who are hostile toward frum people. But that doesn't mean the yeshivish/charedi community should pretend that today does not exist. And I know also that Eretz Yisrael is very important to frum Jews, but that doesn't mean there is nothing equal or even more imporant. Torah needs to be emphasised as well.


Blogger SephardiLady said...

Great post! It seems to me that both zionism and anti-zionism are outdated ways of relating to the State of Israel. And, yet, some people still feel the need to spend time arguing about the past, rather than living in the present.

I prefer to live in the real world and see no real value in theorizing about whether or not the State of Israel should exist or if 1948 was the beginning of the redemptive process. Israel does exist (baruch hashem) and whether or not the founding of the State was the beginning of the geulah doesn't impact my observance of halacha.

I can't imagine growing up the State of Israel and I can't imagine what Judaism would look like without a State (although I do imagine that we would be in a far, far worse situation without Israel). I can't growing up without turning up the radio everytime there was a report from Israel. I can't imagine not having Jews all over the world without a land to call home, even if they have never even visited. And, I can't imagine having grown up without hearing that my grandfather helped ship arms and ammunition to Eretz Yisrael in its fight for independence (and, I highly doubt that he cared the least bit for all of the arguments when so much of Jewry in Europe was decimated and a practical solution was needed for the survivors and the Jewish people).

So, while others spend time arguing like they are living in the early 1940's, I will spend today appreciating the very fact that we have a State to call our own.

May 03, 2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Outoftown said...

Thanks, Sephardilady. As usual, you have great comments :)

May 03, 2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Neil Harris said...

Tough situation. My wife and I moved about 8 years ago from Queens to a small Jewish community 750 miles away from our friends/family too. We just moved again, but in our previous community, there was one school and one shul. Yom Ha'atmaut was a big deal. Other Shulchan-Aruch Yom Tovim didn't necessarily have the same "Simchas Yom Tov" feeling among community members.

May 05, 2006 7:18 AM  
Blogger Esther said...

I am glad you posted on this, and I agree that we need a middle ground. My son's school had the full program - parade, kumsitz, Israeli food for snack, and a special davening for the older students. We didn't mind - the parade was very cute - but they did not do a similar full day of events for the other holidays (at least not at the Early Childhood).

May 09, 2006 9:38 AM  
Blogger cool yiddishe mama said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 10, 2006 9:28 PM  
Blogger cool yiddishe mama said...

At my daughter's nursery school, which does id itself as Religious Zionist, they also do programs for Chanukah and Pesach (Family Fun Days) and a kumsitz for Thanksgiving.
I live in a community that is blessed to have 5 Jewish day schools: a "community" school, a Schechter school, and three Orthodox schools, a yeshivish cheder, a charedi school, and the religious zionist school. The school that my daughter goes to started over 20 years ago b/c the parents whose kids went to the charedi school (which wasn't quite so charedi as it is now) were not permitted to pull their kids out for a community Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration at the local Young Israel.
I will post more about school choices on my blog at a future time because I sense this post going on forever. Look for it.
cool yiddishe mama

May 10, 2006 9:30 PM  
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