Monday, April 23, 2007

Day of independence

Today is the 6th if Iyyar, Israel Independence Day (יום העצמאות; Yom HaAtma'ut).

Last year my former teacher, David Golinkin of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem wrote an interesting history of prayers that Jews have said over the centuries for the countries in which they have lived.

He concludes his article with these words:
For thousands of years, Jews prayed or offered sacrifices for the king or the government primarily because they were afraid of them. In the nineteenth century, Jews in democracies such as the United States began to compose new prayers which expressed their true love and identification with their country. In 1948, the Jewish people for the first time since the days of King Alexander Yannai, entered a new phase of its history when it could pray to God to preserve and protect the State of Israel, “the beginning of our redemption”. As we celebrate Israel's 58th birthday, we hope and pray to God: “Bless the State of Israel…protect her under the wings of Your grace and spread over her a Sukkah of peace”.
May we not forget what a gift it is to live in a time where Jews are free to choose the government under which they live. And may we never forget our love for Jerusalem and its people.

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