By Laura Seymour
Passover is over, but the pilgrimage continues as we make our way toward Shavuot. There are several “modern” holidays between the exodus from Egypt and receipt of the Torah. These are Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), followed by Yom HaZikaron (to honor those who died defending Israel), then Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day).
It’s interesting that Yom HaAtzmaut, with its celebration and joy, follows two somber holidays. But it’s important we remember that Israel was born out of the horror of the Shoah and secured through the blood and sweat of its soldiers. As such, though these holidays are “modern” ones, they provide wonderful opportunities for us to talk about Israel with our children.
This is a discussion that’s easier to have with older children and teenagers, however. Younger children can have difficulty conceiving of Israel, a far-away country. Few understand the concept of the “United States” or, for that matter, Dallas. But it’s never too soon to build a connection between your child and the land of Israel.
To help make it easier for young children to understand that important tie, here is a story I like to tell every year at this time:
Once upon a time, a small boy stood in a field, holding tightly to a string that led to the sky and clouds, where it disappeared. Though the child couldn’t see what was at the end of that string, he continued to hold on to it, looking up at it, and pulling gently on it.
Then a man came by to ask what he was doing.
“Flying a kite,” the child responded, his eyes on the sky.
“How do you know what’s up there? How can you see the kite in the clouds?” the man wondered.
The boy smiled, and studied his string. “I know it’s there because of the tug,” he responded.
Just like Israel. We can’t see it in our immediate universe, but we know it’s there … because of the tug.
That tug becomes more prevalent when singing “Hatikvah” together. For many of us, the words connect us to our homeland:
“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 two-thousand-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 Youth and Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.