Rina Haller –
Standing on the peak of Masada, watching the sun rise as I reached Shemona Eshrei at neitz, I felt the kedushah and uniqueness of Eretz Yisroel sweep through my body. Today was a year ago, on Israeli Independence Day, and I was in Israel.
Having attended in a more right wing school, Israeli Independence Day was not formally acknowledged. Eretz Yisroel? Sure, we spoke about the country, our teachers and peers frequented the homeland.
But this year, last year, was different; I was there. When the shops closed and at two in the morning we filed downstairs onto buses, sleeping with exhaustion and still hearing about the Boston bombing. My eim bayit had given me an energy drink that I planned on availing myself but alas, I climbed the steep mountain without Blu running through my veins. Each step was a sharp reminder of how out of shape I was but I made it to the top. I found a quiet spot among the ruins and I started to daven shachris. I started to mention my land as the sun started to shine on the Dead Sea, as the warmth of a new day hit my face.
If one ever needs to feel proud of their land, one should look at it. Stand at the Kotel with the swarming masses of Jews, of people from all over the world. Stand on the top of Masada, a historic stronghold with the legacy of our martyrs dotting the hills. I may not be uttering Hallel or having a party but I feel the pride of a Jew. Maybe I’ll even wear blue and white.
Wherever you align yourself on the philosophical discussion of Yom Haazmaut, know that you stand with your nation. We will never all agree on anything. But we must learn to accept each other. This day of getting our land was a gift from Above, as promised centuries before. Soldiers fought and men and women davened and now we walk in our ancestral homeland free. We must group together to show the world their boycotts will not harm our spirit. No other country has risen literally from the ashes as we have and created a nation whose existence is benefitting the world and now even saving enemy lives.
To truly take part in today’s celebrations, one needs to acknowledge the Almighty’s hand. Especially in the current world, where the size of Israel does not correlate to the daily miracles.
Every acre of land in the State of Israel has a story of how it was obtained. There were sieges, daring rescues, and massacres. To build my future in my homeland is to dedicate a life to honoring those who gave theirs for this land.
Today is a day to say thank you for our land and our nation. Every day is a day to bless our people and our home. Regardless of the world’s view and plans, we are here. Thank G-d for it all.