Israel is 73

April 16, 2021 in Hazzan Asa Fradkin

Israel is 73


One of my favorite Israeli broadcast channels is Can 11. They feature intimate interviews with trauma survivors, historical and cultural analyses of holidays such as Pesach and Hannukah. And they have great dramas and comedies as well. Plus you can watch full episodes of their content with Hebrew subtitles, which helps me to understand the dialogue more thoroughly.

So yesterday, as I was scrolling through FaceBook, I saw a broadcast pop up for the Israel at 73 celebration and prize ceremony from a performance hall in Jerusalem.

I understood much of the dialogue which included platitudes like “ Even in these difficult times, we come together to celebrate our independence and recognize that we are one people.” and noticed similarities with American New Year’s Eve broadcasts in the many star singers that graced the stage.

There were also beloved authors and intellectuals as well as citizens in their 70s and 80’s who were children during the establishment of the state.

It felt joyous, if a bit sanitized, and I was glad to take part in a celebration for Israel’s independence from my own kitchen two thousand miles away.

But as I listened,  I noticed that the speaker currently on stage, was giving some kind of political speech about the wonderful accomplishments of Bibi and the Israeli government, including the peace treaties signed with UAE, Morocco and Bahrain. I couldn’t help but feel a little disgusted by this overt display of politics at a national event of unity and then I realized that since this was a Facebook broadcast, there would surely be plenty of comments.

One person said “what did we do to deserve this poor lineup” another lamented “ I wish they would just take his batteries out”

Others were more to the point. “ What does the Tanach say about bribery and cheating”  and “ this is what legal criminality looks like”

It was funny, it was shocking and it was so sad. We in America have gotten used to corrupt government. Lying, stealing, cheating and calls for violence becoming the norm.

But Israel? Israel is supposed to be an ideal, something to which we should all aspire. A country to send our children to on High School trips ( JDS, Milton?), summer excursions ( Ramah) and gap years ( Nativ and countless others).

Is that still our Israel? Can we still look up to a country so divided that 4 elections in just over a year have failed to solidify a coalition with the faith and confidence of the public?

In short, we have to. Israel is in a phase of inner turmoil that it has scarcely known since it’s birth, but we have always held Israel as an ideal in our prayers, in our hearts and in our thoughts. It’s where we can go to be the fullest, most robust and spiritual versions of our spiritual selves.

I will continue to love Israel with all my heart, no matter how much it hurts see it struggle with much the same division we face here in the United States. It will continue to be a beacon for me as long as the wall calls me and the it’s citizens fight for one another.

Shabbat Shalom

Hazzan Fradkin