Another Zakkai update:
Another 25-hour Tehillim/Psalms rally (hopefully last!!)
Without a doubt, the incredible success of Zakkai's last surgery (on 4/4) was due to the world-class medical team in Boston and the overwhelming outpouring of prayer by friends around the world. The medical team is lined up, including the phenomenal anesthesiologist who took great care of us last time - we found this out today and we're very relieved!
Now we need our friends again for the prayer part. As we did last time, we are organizing a 25-hour Tehillim/Psalms reading during the halachic/Jewish day that Zakkai will be undergoing (hopefully his last) surgery in Boston this coming Monday morning, April 30. There are 20-minute time slots during which one can read Tehillim/Psalms of his/her choice. The timelines start 7:20 pm Sunday, April 29 and end 8:40 pm Monday, April 30. Please see http://tinyurl.com/7k2f6ua for the details. Thank you in advance to all who participate (as well as to those who don't participate but keep Zakkai in their prayers nonetheless).
Tonight we begin the celebration of Yom Ha'Atzmaut -- Israeli Independence Day.
Every year I write with amazement about the sudden transition, from mourning to celebration. It epitomizes Jewish life, with our suffering and our capacity to rejoice all wrapped together.
Tonight we begin with prayer, and then to fireworks, songfests and dancing in city squares.
Israel is, without a doubt, a modern miracle of enormous proportions. Whatever our failings, we have accomplished the impossible in 64 short years.
In the midst of our enemies, rising from the ashes of the Holocaust:
 We have founded a Jewish state that moves according to Jewish time, Jewish practices and Jewish sensibility. It is truly singular: like none other in the world.
 We have managed to sustain a robust, if still-evolving, democracy that boasts great diversity.
 We contribute in manifold ways to the good of humanity with our scientific and medical innovations, and we reach out to other nations to lend assistance.
 We live at the heart of Jewish history with a heritage that reaches back thousands of years -- and a continuing array of archeological discoveries that document this. The Jewish places of greatest sanctity are within our borders.
 We have one of the very best armies in the world (and the most ethical), so that, thank Heaven, we can protect ourselves -- a matter of huge proportions.
 We are fiscally solid and thriving. At the cutting edge of hi-tech (second only to Silicon Valley), we are renowned for our innovative approaches.
 We offer a vast selection of opportunities for Jewish study.
 We have a thriving national high culture, with world-class artists and musicians.
When I say a modern miracle, I mean it literally. What I have just described would not be possible without protection from Above.
Last year I cited a piece from the Koren Siddur (prayerbook) with regard to Yom Ha'Atzmaut. It is so meaningful that I repeat part of it here (with emphasis added):
"Jews were the first to see God in history, to see the unfolding of events as a meaningful narrative, the ongoing story of the covenant between God and His people. The celebration of Yom Ha'Atzmaut as a religious festival is part of this faith. Never before had a people survived so long an exile, its identity intact. Never before had a nation that had not known sovereignty for two millennia recovered it again. Ravaged [as the Jewish people had been] by the Holocaust a mere three years earlier, the declaration of Israel's independence was a remarkable act of faith, an everlasting symbol of the victory of life over death, hope over despair.
"Some thirty-three centuries ago, Moses prophesied: 'Even if you have been dispersed to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.' (Deut. 30:4) and so it happened. If, as we believe, there are events that bear the signature of Heaven, this surely was one. Therefore we give thanks to God for bringing the land back to the people, and the people back to the land -- the land where our people was born in ancient times, and reborn in ours."
I am unabashed in my gratitude, to be an Israeli and to be able to participate in this moment in Jewish history.
Because Israel is a very small state, there is a connectedness, a feeling of family, here. I find native Israelis -- who can seem brash and difficult -- to be very good people, capable of embracing life with enormous (sometimes breathtaking) courage, and seizing opportunities to do chesed (works of lovingkindness). There is an great vibrancy to our society. It is no accident that, in spite of all our troubles, Israelis consistently poll as one of the happiest, most optimistic people in the world
Our task is two-fold.
To stay strong and resilient in our conviction that it is our right, our destiny, as Jews to be here.
Where there are weaknesses and failings in the State -- oy v'voy are there! -- to work to make it better. Israel is ours, as nothing else will ever be, and it falls to us to make it all it is meant to be...
I have not yet mentioned the scenic beauty of our land -- a land that Israelis love to tour and hike. And so a video that offers a taste:
Lastly, from Aish, for your enjoyment, the really neat Yom Ha'Atzmaut musical video, "Wave Your Flag":
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.