The great miracle of being home

Here in our land, our Land of Israel, we are truly free. 

Lila Lowell

OpEds Independence Day 2019
Independence Day 2019

Last night, Wednesday evening, my husband and I joined hundreds upon hundreds of our sisters and brothers, men, women and children, streaming towards the open air plaza of what was once the Jerusalem train station.  No one carried hastily packed suitcases, no one carried food for a journey of resettlement in an unknown location, no one was frightened, no police bullied the crowd and no one actually traveled anywhere.

There was no need to, we were all, everyone of us, no matter  the country of our birth, already at home, in our own land, in our ancient, rebuilt capital city,  "Altneu"  Jerusalem, from which, never again, will we be removed.  

The OU Center had organized a public celebratory Yom Ha'atzmaut prayer event led by Rabbi Shlomo Katz.  Already on stage, he stepped up to the lectern,  strapped on a guitar and donned a Talit. Behind him stood a band; an electric guitar, a keyboard and a drum.  Rabbi Katz began the Tfila (prayer). His voice was sweet, melodic, inspiring. The crowd joined in, singing, clapping, dancing.  We sang our way through Hallel, accompanied by Rabbi Katz and  the band; a hint of  Levites singing in the Holy Temple accompanied by musical instruments.  

An experience truly divine.

Only a few short weeks ago, we Jews sat around the Seder table reciting the Haggadah. Interestingly. while the entire Haggadah is written in Hebrew, one section, at the beginning, is recorded in Aramaic, suggesting exile.  Ha lachma anya, we point to the matzo. "This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in Egypt." We invite all those who are hungry or needy to join us.

Then we express our hope, "Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel."  Where is here? England, France, America? Possibly anywhere on the planet except the Land of Israel.  "Now we are slaves, next year may we be free men." How are we slaves in the diaspora?  Friends tell of heightened security, safety training sessions in Jewish schools and shuls.  pervasive fear and insecurity.  This is a form of enslavement. Here in our land, our Land of Israel, we are truly free. 

Last night , hundreds upon hundreds of people streamed into what is now called The First Station. Some were draped in flags, people sported head coverings of all sorts though admittedly there were no shtreimels, at least not yet, but no one was frightened, anxious or uncomfortable. Everyone without exception and of whatever age,  felt blessed to merit experiencing the great miracle of being home, after an exile of 2,000 years. We celebrated our  freedom  and independence; the people of Israel, along with the Torah of Israel in the Land of Israel.  

Chag Samaiach to all, those already here and those yet to come.