Yesterday's Yom HaZikaron program was organized by our Ivrit Department. It featured appriopriaste readings and songs, one performed by eleventh-grader Shachar Avraham who was accompanied by his classmates Esther Moerdler and Avi Krupman, the others performed by the Amal Choir from Nahariya, the UJA's Partner City in Israel. (Special thanks to Morah Dafna, to the UJA, and to Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky).
This morning and early afternoon our students participated in our annual Yom Ha-Atzma'ut extravaganza which was created by Director of Student Activities Rabbi David Goldfischer and sponsored, as it is each year, by the Frisch Parents Association.
The theme of today's program was religious Zionism as articulated in Rav Soltoveitchik z'tsl's Kol Dodi Dofek, in which the Rav identified six specific "knocks on the door", six events/phenomena which a religiously sensitive Jew should see as clear indication of the special opportunity God was extending to the Jewish People with the creation of Medinat Yisrael, a knock to which HaKadosh Barukh Hu clearly expected His nation to respond. After our Tefilah Chagigit, including, of course, spirited singing of Hallel, Rabbi Goldfischer introduced the program with a short video he produced and with inspiring words. Each grade then participated in a round robin in which four of the Rav's "knocks" were portrayed in an informative and substantive, but also somewhat lighthearted, manner. In no particular order:
1. The miracle at the United Nations in November 1947 when just about for the only time during the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union both supported a UN Resolution, that is, the decision to partition Palestine and create a Jewish State. The kids saw a very amusing skit performed by Rabbis Feldman and Schachter who portrayed the American and Soviet ambassadors followed by footage of the roll call in the General Assembly and of the resulting celebrations in Eretz Yisrael and elsewhere, including one at the Arch of Titus in Rome which, of course, honors the Roman conquest of Judea and the destruction of the Mikdash. At the end of this session, as at the end of each of the succeeding ones, students heard the words of the Rav describing the spiritual significance of this miracle
2. Rabbim B'Yad Me'atim, The Many defeated by the Few. As in the military victory of Chanukah, the War of Independence of 1948-49 was a miraculous victory of the small, poorly equipped, and in many cases untrained forces of the just-organized IDF against the comparatively huge force and equipment of the Arab armies. The students particularly enjoyed hearing the account of an American veteran of the war who commanded a unit on the Egyptian Front. Rabbis Goldfischer and Sher performed brilliantly as Israeli soldiers.
3. A place of refuge: For the first time in nearly two thousand years Jews throughout the world know they have a State which is ready and willing to welcome them. Rabbi Fleischmann, in a series if vignettes introduced by Rabbi Jaffe, appeared as Natan Sharansky, who among other things read them a beautiful letter he read to his daughter Rachel under her Chuppah; as Chief Rabbi Lau who talked about his days as a child survivor and about a suitcase an American G.I. gave him at the time of his liberation and which he carried with him to Israel and kept with him till only the handle was left; and as the founder of Nefesh B'Nefesh who, thankfully, deals with Jews who voluntarily make Aliyah rather than as refugees from oppression.
4. For the first time in modern history Dam Yehudi Eino Hefker, Jewish blood is no longer for the taking. The existence of a State which can defend its own citizens and Jews throughout the world is in itself a miraculous phenomenon. Rabbis Wald and Ciner and Mrs. Goldfischer presented this thoughtfully but humorously in a Seder table discussion and Dvar Torah, we hope that Rabbi Wald will be able to do a better job with Mah Nishtanah by next Pesach, and in a series of videos including footage from one of the Entebbe movies.
The program concluded with some words of Torah by Rabbi Eliyahu Blum, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Nehar Deiah in Nahariya and with an inspirational summation by Rabbi Goldfischer.
One of the issues which we also tried to address is the need to expand our students' perspective about Israel. We spend a lot of time talking about the centrality of Medinat Yisrael in Jewish life, about threats to Israel and our responsibility to give of ourselves and of our fortunes to support and advocate for Israel, about the spiritual accomplishments and potential of Israel.
But we don't often enough talk about the incredible scientific, technological, economic and humanitarian achievements of a tiny little state in a very backward region, achievements of which advocates of Israel should be proud and about which they should be prepared to speak. Rabbi Sher, our AISAC advisor, and a group of his kids have created a huge map of Israel which is covered with lots of facts and factoids about these many, many wonderful achievements. It will remain on display throughout the week downstairs in front of the Shul.
And, of course, a terrific Chagigah with great music and dancing and our now traditional outdoor barbecue picnic on the back lawn courtesy of the sponsorship of the Frisch Parents Association and the hard work of many, many wonderful parent volunteers.