Thursday, May 08, 2008

Celebrating 60

It's a bitter sweet day for me - even before I arrived to take up my position in the States we have been talking about Israel at 60 and working towards planning celebrations. Last night I had the honour of lighting a torch at an extremely impressive and emotional local several hundred strong celebration. On June 1st I'll have the satisfaction of thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people visiting the community's major event, taking place at a location which is recognised around the world, which I've taken a small role in assisting to prepare.

I have spent much time over the last months talking about Israel's achievements in 60 short years, speaking to groups and individuals about my area of expertise in particular but plenty of general conversations, and admiring the incredible work that my talented colleagues have been bringing to their communities across the world.

I am blessed with the knowledge that today, literally hundreds of new Israelis, Olim from North America, are spending their first Yom Ha'atzmaut in Israel as citizens of the country, and that I had a part in their getting there.

But the feeling is muted by the fact that I'm celebrating from afar in the US - without the sirens for Yom Hazikaron, without the smoke rising and smell of mangal as I look out the window, without the enterprising young kids selling flags for the car at 5 shekels a throw at every traffic light, without the jams as I try to go out on tiyul, with no music on the radio or politicos on the TV, no sheleg spray on Ben Yehuda, air force fly past, without being able to spend this amazing day with my friends, family, neighbours and fellow Israelis - it's all something of a let down.

There will be other celebrations and the time will fly by until we get back home - a little over a year to go and we'll look back wondering where the time has gone.

Being able to celebrate in Israel is a very special thing. We are a privileged generation that can say L'shana Ha'ba B'yerushalayim and know that if we want to, we can pack up and get on a plane and be there in our holy city, celebrating our independence with all or Am Yisrael. As more and more of us choose to do so, let's hope that the day when all of the exiles shall be in gathered is not far off.

Chag Sameach



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