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      Fundamentally Freund
      by Michael Freund
      An alternative approach to Israeli political commentary.
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      Michael Freund is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister´s Office under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He has lived in Israel for the past decade.
      Iyar 6, 5767, 4/24/2007

      A Broom & A Flag - The Meaning of Independence Day



      "Master of the Universe, may I yet merit to raise the flag of Israel over a high place in the Land of Israel."
      Sometimes, amid the rush of events here in Israel, it becomes easy to lose sight of the significance of the rebirth of the Jewish State.

      We often get so caught up in the headlines, with its political intrigue, diplomatic challenges and security threats, that we fail to keep things in their proper perspective.

      So here is a true short story that should jar us into appreciating just how fortunate we are to live in an era of renewed Jewish sovereignty and independence:

      "The righteous Rabbi Avraham Yaakov, the late Rebbe of Sadigora, who lived in Tel Aviv, would customarily attend the city's Great Synagogue on Israel's Independence Day and recite the Hallel (prayer of thanksgiving) in public. And when the worshippers danced in the plaza in front of the synagogue, he joined them in the circle and danced with great enthusiasm. And there was a feeling that the Rebbe experienced a special sense of joy on this day. Subsequently, when one of his Hasidim (followers) went to speak with him, the Rebbe told him about the time when he had lived in Vienna, during the period when the Nazis entered the city. Their first order of business was to persecute and humiliate the Jews. And since the Rebbe was considered the leader of the Vienna's Jews, the Nazis chose him to sweep the streets of the city, and they gave him a large broom. While doing the work, the Rebbe turned his gaze heavenward and said, "Master of the Universe, may I yet merit to sweep the streets of the Land of Israel." The Nazis then handed the Rebbe a Nazi flag, and forced him to raise it over a large building in the city. And while he was doing so, the Rebbe again turned to G-d and said, "Master of the Universe, may I yet merit to raise the flag of Israel over a high place in the Land of Israel." Subsequently, after the war, the Rebbe emigrated to the Land of Israel, and wanted to fulfill his promise.... So what did he do on Israel Independence Day? He arose at 3:00am, took a large broom, and went out to sweep the streets. And then he would take an Israeli flag and hoist it high on the roof of the building with great excitement and enthusiasm, for G-d had accepted his prayer. And this was the source of his joy on this day - the day of the establishment of the State of Israel."

      (Excerpted from the book Alei Tamar by Rabbi Yissachar Tamar zt"l)

      So the next time you find yourself down in the dumps, reading the newspapers and wondering about this country and its leadership - think back to the Rebbe of Sadigora, with a broom in one hand, a flag in the other, and a heart full of gratitude to G-d for the miracle that is the modern State of Israel.

      Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day)!!