Another beauty by Daniel Gordis
"Imagine it's January 1946. Imagine, too, that you are exactly who you are now: thoughtful, educated, worldly, rational. And then, someone says to you, "Tell me about the future of the Jews." .... The Jews have a future because the Jews have a state. There are moments when a People has earned a celebration. Yom Ha'atzmaut is, without question, one of those moments. "
Rabbi Gordis again reminds us of the importance of Israel in the lives of Jews throughout the world, how we went from a position of despair and hopelessness after World War II to where we are today:
"The simple but often overlooked truth is that what has made this difference for Jews world over is the State of Israel.
It was Israel's victory in 1967 that injected energy into Soviet Jewry and led them to rattle their cage, demanding their freedom. Post-1967, the world saw the Jews as people who would shape their own destiny. Unlike the Tibetans (or Chechnyans or Basques, to name just a few), Jews were no longer tiptoeing around the world, waiting to see what the world had in store for them.
The re-creation of the Jewish state has changed not only how the world sees the Jews, but how the Jews see themselves. The days of "We looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we appeared to them" (Num. 13:33) are gone, and the reason is the State of Israel.
We are a people sometimes over-inclined to indulge in hand-wringing (and at others, unwilling to do the hand-wringing we ought to). And we face our challenges. Iran is worrisome, Egyptian peace is tenuous. Hila Bezaleli's tragic death was a metaphor for the lack of accountability that plagues this country. The behavior of Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner, as well as the reactions to what he did, is also deeply unsettling.
But let us remember this, nevertheless: it is far too easy to lose sight of what we have accomplished. Sixty-six years ago, no sane, level-headed person could have imagined that we would have what we have. A language brought back to life, and bookstores filled with hundreds of linear feet of books in a language that just a century ago almost no one spoke. More people studying Torah now than there were in Europe at its height. An economic engine that is the envy of many supposedly more established countries. A democracy fashioned by immigrants, most of whom had never lived in a functioning democracy. Cutting-edge health care. An army that keeps us so safe, we go days on end without even thinking about our enemies.
That's worth remembering in the midst of the attacks on us, from the international community as well as from Jews. There's much to repair, and too often, we fail to meet the standards we've set for ourselves. All true, and they demand our continued attention, but at the same time, we dare not lose sight of what we've built. To borrow the phrase from Virginia Slims, "we've come a long way, baby." "