April 2018

Israel at 70!

The Sheva Brachot are the seven blessings bestowed upon a couple at their wedding under the chuppah. Each blessing takes on a different aspect of the couple’s future life together. I want to use the idea of the sheva brachot as a metaphor for celebrating Israel’s Independence this year. On Wednesday night, April 18th, Israel will celebrate its 70th anniversary as a nation in the modern world. Below are my seven blessings for rejoicing in our beloved Israel; one for each decade of “chai.”

The first blessing is that there is a modern State of Israel at all. After almost 2000 years of exile, from the time of the destruction of the Great Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, though terrible horrors such as the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition and expulsions, pogroms, Anti-Semitism and blood libels, to the unspeakable Holocaust, we should have been dead as a Jewish people.  But we survived, and through it all, we’ve maintained this eternal yearning to return to Zion and Jerusalem. It was our “Hatikvah”-our hope. Then in 1948, we regained our land, our Israel, as a modern state. Amen.

The second blessing is that Israel today is a powerhouse for technology. They lead in agricultural advancement, computer technology, cyber-security, communications, and aero-space development. From drip-irrigation, to the chips that power your cell phones, to protecting your internet footprints, Israel has stamped a mark on our technological world. I even just learned that two major cyber-security firms just made Boston their US headquarters. Israel’s technological success is a blessing for us in Massachusetts. Amen.

The third blessing is in the world of medicine and medical advances. Israel is at the top of the list where modern miracles continually save lives. Here are two amazing discoveries that Israel 21c shares on their website. I encourage you to see the full list.

Rewalk robotic exoskeleton by Argo Medical Technologies was featured on the hit TV show “Glee” and enabled paraplegic runners in London and Tel Aviv to complete marathons. Our own US Military medical community has used them to help disabled services members from recent combat operations walk again! And, GI View Aer-O-Scope disposable colorectal cancer screening is a self-navigating device that makes lifesaving colonoscopy screenings cheaper, safer and more accessible worldwide.

And, if you need extra convincing, just ask our fantastic Temple Hadassah members who have worked for decades in raising funds for Hadassah Hospital to bring the best medical care to all. Most of all, Israel treats everyone- EVERYONE- with the same, caring and compassionate care.  Amen.

The fourth blessing is Israel’s courageous and powerful military, the defending shield of Israel. Israel’s military is called Tzahal or the IDF-Israel Defense Force. The emphasis is on “Defense.” From the incredible beginnings of the founding of the modern State to today, the IDF has fought for the safety and security of all the people of Israel. They have no choice, and just about everyone serves, men and women. The IDF lead the way with their precision Air Force, bold Navy, and just plain tenacious Army soldiers. The IDF must and does do all it can to keep Israel safe. A blessing that always has come with price of life, but one that every Israeli understands and sanctifies. The blessing of saving lives from our enemies.  Amen.

For the fifth blessing it is important to remember that Israel is the only true democracy in the region and real friend to the United States. As much as I honesty struggle at times with the internal political decisions made, I honor and rejoice in the democracy that Israel is. And now, a number of Arab countries that surround Israel are “quietly” looking to Israel for keep their own nations secure. A blessing for sure. Amen.

Am Yisrael—the People of Israel are the sixth blessing. Israel, a tiny country of over eight and a half million people is what powers Israel’s diversity. Home to the majority of Jews, but also home to Muslims, Christians, Druze, Baha’i, and even former Vietnamese “boat people” who Israel rescued and took in decades ago, all make Israel what it is today. And from its own Jewish communities, come Jews from all over the world, Europe: North Africa, Iran and Iraq, Yemen, South Africa and South America, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Each group, religious or secular are a part of the incredible mosaic of Israel today. Truly a blessing. Amen.

And the final blessing of my Sheva Brachot for Israel: That Israel is OUR ISRAEL.

So on Yom HaAtzmaut-Israel Independence Day on April 19th, celebrate Israel’s seventy years of Chai -life. Fly an Israeli flag at home, listen to Israeli music, eat falafel and hummus, recite Hallel, and give thanks to God for the State of Israel. Invest in Israel through Israel Bonds, donate to our Masorti Movement in Israel to ensure a vibrant religious pluralism. And, plan when you will visit Israel.

The Seventh Blessing of the Shevet Brachot states: “…may there always be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem voices of joy and gladness, voices of bride and groom…”  Let us all join in the blessings of joy and gladness for Israel at 70!  Amen!

Rabbi, Dr. Larry Bazer