By Laura Seymour
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, is on April 11, followed by Yom HaZikaron, Day of Remembrance for those who died defending Israel, on April 19 and then Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, on April 20. 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 occasion of lots of celebration and this year, we hope everyone will be at the JCC to celebrate with all the Jewish organizations in town. There will be something for everyone plus food, music and fun! It is definitely an afternoon for the entire family, so come to the J from 4:30 to 8 p.m. and be ready to celebrate Israel.
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. Commemorative events are held in our community for older children, teens and 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 with, 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 director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.