Adam Hummel
Adam HummelCourtesy

For the last several years, my family has taken on the tradition of celebrating Shabbat Tkumah - the Shabbat of Revival. This year, I’m urging others to do the same.

This is the Shabbat between Yom Hashoa (Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day) this week, and Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day), followed immediately by Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) next week.

The proximity of the “Three Yoms” to each other is something to marvel, and says a lot both about who we are, and what we can do.

We have taken to marking this Shabbat because it is nothing short of miraculous that in the span of almost exactly three years, from May 1945 to May 1948, the Jewish people emerged from their most traumatic collective experience ever of the Holocaust, to one of the most incredible accomplishments in Jewish history: the re-establishment of the State of Israel.

Three years is a remarkably short period for our people to experience such a profound revival - from powerlessness and dispossession to powerful possession of our own State. We regained, in short time, the ability to determine our own future. As farmers, refugees, and orphans, we fought back powerful armies who sought to undermine that revival.

Shabbat Tkumah

This year, contemplating our revival is more appropriate than ever. This should be our opportunity to not only consider the strides that were taken in the 1940s to shape our own destiny, but how we must consider our own situation today, in 2024.

Just over seven months ago, we were at our most vulnerable. In the days following 10/7, we learned gruesome details about what happened on that cruel day, began to bury our dead, and learned that Jews could still be killed en masse, even in the safest place in the world to be Jewish. We were stunned, caught in a moment of weakness, looking for friends and support.

Over the last seven months however, we have learned much about our own resilience. About how we stand up for each other when needed, about how strong our army and intelligence services can be, about what we can accomplish when we rely on each other. True, our friends may not always appear to be as steadfast as we hope for them to be, and the criticism of the masses seems almost deafening at times.

But, we are here and we are strong. People who did not openly identify as Jews before now walk around with Stars of David proudly strung around their necks. Quiet Jews have found their voices, and have spoken up in support of their community. We have several new community organizations (at least in Toronto), and everyone is trying to do their part.

On October 6, Israel was a community divided, with endless talk of a potential "civil war” because of anti-government protests. The next day, we were united, to an extent that we have not been in years. This revival of unity is worth celebrating, even when there is still so much to mourn. And still pockets of disunity.

How to celebrate

In the past, my family’s observance of Shabbat Tkumah was intended to acknowledge the achievement of those three years from 1945 - 1948: the years that commemorate our transition from Yom Hashoa to Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut. As there is no formality to this Shabbat, I have taken it upon myself to figure out how best to commemorate it in my house.

In my family, along with our Shabbat candles, we light a Menorah too (that I bought on Amazon), which has the traditional seven-branches, not nine of a Hanukkiah. The seven-branched Menorah is on the seal of the State of Israel, and symbolizes our everlasting light. I put my Herzl and Ben Gurion salt and pepper shakers on the table, wear my Herzl t-shirt from Piece of History, my kids wear their Golda Meir t-shirts from Shuk HaCarmel, and they make Israel-themed decorations that they can show off and use to explain something that they have learned about Israel at school.

This year, we will also be wearing yellow ribbons, and our army IDs/dogtags reminding us that our brothers and sisters remain captive in Gaza.

That’s me, rocking my Herzl shirt from Piece of History.

After Kiddush, we recite the Prayer for the State of Israel and for the IDF (included below, for convenience) and we sing Hatikvah.

This is just our own adaptation, but there are other ways this Shabbat can be observed. I have Israeli friends who celebrate by going around the table and asking their children what they love about Israel to mark the importance of the day, a sort of Israeli-Thanksgiving. Others have told me that they had a grandparent, who actually fought in the War of Independence, share his story on that Shabbat, reminding that we still have direct links among us to events that happened 76 years ago.

And I was told that in preparation for Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzma'ut this year, hundreds of newly bereaved Israeli families will gain spiritual and emotional strength at a OneFamily three day supportive retreat, including Shabbat Tkumah, in a Tel Aviv hotel.

Making the Yoms more Jewish

Personally, infusing the Jewish with the Zionist, and the Jewish with the modern, is meaningful and important. Yom Hashoa and Yom Ha’atzmaut are Israeli days of commemoration, not found on the Jewish calendar and not formally sanctioned by the rabbis. But they should be.

-Yom Hashoa commemorates the greatest tragedy that ever befell our people. It should be a fast day, akin to Tisha B’Av.

-The two days of Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut mark one of the greatest achievements in Jewish history, and the sacrifice of thousands that led to our re-birth. 1% of the population of Israel fell defending our new state in the War of Independence.

These two holidays should be as religious as they are secular, celebrated like Shavuot, or Simchat Torah. In Israel, Religious Zionists have a special evening prayer erev Yom Haatzmaut and add the Hallel prayer to the morning service.

Israeli flags projected onto Independence Hall (photo credit: Adam Hummel)

On Yom Hashoa, we remember the more than six-million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. On Yom Hazikaron this year, we commemorate the loss of almost 30,000 Israelis who died for Israel, either in war or terror attacks. Sadly, that number has gone up significantly since last year owing to the events of the last seven months.

On Yom Ha’atzmaut, we celebrate that for 76 years we have been in control of our own destiny with a place to proudly proclaim as our own, whether we live there or in the Diaspora. Associating numbers with the holidays reminds us of the reality of what we commemorate or celebrate, and how we must sanctify those holy days.

I therefore encourage you to join me in commemorating Shabbat Tkumah this Friday May 10, 2024.

Feel free to borrow from what are now my family’s traditions, or to make your own. What is important is not how the day is marked, but that it is.

We are a people revived. That revival’s reality took shape from 1945 to 1948. From October 7 to May 10.

Since then, with the help of the State of Israel and its citizens, we reclaimed our dignity, stand with our heads high, are counted in the community of nations, and thrive in a manner befitting those who merit from miraculous deeds.

For convenience, here are the prayers for the State of Israel, and for the IDF: