Op-Ed: Strength and Humility are Key in Defending the Jewish State
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, published an op-ed today in Haaretz titled “Strength and humility: the key to defending the Jewish State.” He writes,
It would be all too easy to spend Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Haatzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) debating the rights and wrongs of the complex political issues that have absorbed Jewish communities of late. I wonder, though, whether it would be possible to forego debates on these issues – from stopping Iran’s rush to nuclear weapons, to the formation of a new Israeli coalition after a divisive election campaign – and instead spend these back-to-back observances reconnecting with the Israel we love.
Perhaps it’s the first trip you took to Israel, or the first moment of deep solidarity you felt for its population. Whatever be the case, it feels to me that without the core connections between Diaspora Jews and the holy land, we get lost in politics. Don’t get me wrong, these political issues matter greatly. But underneath our intense arguments must be a true love and commitment to the Jewish State.
With the onset of Yom Hazikaron, the day of remembrance for those brave souls who died creating and protecting the State of Israel over the past 67 years, we enter a phase of darkness. This year, there are many fresh graves to visit, following last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. For those of us in North America, it is hard not to think of Max Steinberg z”l, the young man from Los Angeles whose love of Israel was kindled during his Birthright trip. He joined the Israel Defense Forces to express his commitment to the Jewish State and was killed in the Gaza Strip. He died as a lone soldier, meaning a young man who made the commitment to move to Israel without his family and serve in the military there. Thousands attended his funeral to mourn and to declare that, spiritually, there is no such thing as a lone soldier: he was and remains a part of the larger Jewish family.