Passover is over but the story doesn’t end — the three pilgrimage holidays are all connected and we are “walking” toward Shavuot. However, between Passover and Shavuot, we have a few “new” holidays: Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day; followed by Yom HaZikaron, Day of Remembrance for those who died defending Israel; and then Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. These are all important dates and teach us that remembering our history is crucial to our survival as a people.
Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, is the day of lots of celebration. This year, we are working with the Tzofim (Friends of Israel Scouts) and community organizations to celebrate Israel in a special Israeli way with activities from the Tzofim plus an amazing concert by Israeli artist Ilay Levi. Tickets can be purchased online — this will be an event not to miss as we celebrate Israel at 75!
Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron are both somber times, yet we remember that the state of Israel was born out of the horror of the Shoah and through the fighting of the Israeli soldiers. There are events in all communities for older children and teens with their families, giving us a wonderful opportunity to talk with our children about Israel.
For very young children, it is difficult to conceive of another country far away — most do not even understand Dallas or Texas or the United States. It is important, however, to build that connection to the land of Israel for our children. There is a wonderful story that I remember each year at this time: There was a little boy out in the field holding tightly to a string that went way up into the clouds. He kept his eyes looking up and his hands on the string pulling gently. A man came by and asked what he was doing. The little boy answered that he was flying a kite. The man asked how he could know since he could not see the kite in the clouds. The little boy answered, “I know because of the tug.” Israel is far away but we can always feel that tug at our heart to know it is there.
We sing “Hatikvah” together and the words and music touch our hearts. For many of us the words in Hebrew simply connect us to a land that speaks a language we are not conversant in, so here are the words in English — remember the yearning and the hope!
As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope — the 2,000-year-old hope — will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem!
Laura Seymour is Jewish experiential learning director and camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.