Friday, April 10, 2009

‘This year we are here – next year, may we be in the Land of Israel.’

I would like to share with you one of the thoughts that I had as we enjoyed our Sedar at our friends Yehuda and Rachel Newman.

On Wednesday night, Sonia and I sat down to our first Sedar together in Israel and as usual began with Ha Lachma Anya, part of which reads; ‘this year we are here – next year, may we be in the Land of Israel.’

For all our lives we have been beginning the Sedar with the hope that we would be able to fulfil this desire to be able to live in the land of Israel, and this year just three weeks after making aliyah, our hopes have been fulfilled. For us this was a relatively easy move, albeit with all the difficulties of any migration.

Our journey to Israel though is a small-microcosm of the history of the Jewish people. As the Rabbi’s write; the lives and stories of our forefathers in the Torah, are a parallel of future events. The whole Pesach story is the story of how G-d helped the Jewish people to escape Egypt and eventually reach Egypt, after the Yaacov and his sons migrated to Egypt because of the famine in Egypt. The line above in the Hagadah refers to the hope that the Jewish people had for 2000 years after they were exiled from Israel by the Roman Empire.

This hope that next year we would be able to live in Israel, is found all through Jewish prayer. One place it is found is in the Sheva Brachot that we say on behalf of new married couples, there we request that we may again here in the cities of Israel and in the streets of Jerusalem, voices of joy and gladness, voices of the groom and bride … and the voices of young people feasting and singing.

This hope that we would one-day be able to live happily in the Land of Israel has been seen over the last hundred years and especially since the founding of the State of Israel almost 61 years ago.

Therefore, as the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sack says in his Pesach Hagadah, just as at Pesach we remember the historic returns of the Jewish people to Israel, we should also thank G-d for our new return to Israel. This is because;

“Pesach, like a seed frozen in suspended animation, contained the latent energy the led Jews in the twentieth century to create the single most remarkable accomplishment in the modern world, the rebirth of Israel, the land, the state, the nation and the people.”[1]
[1] The Chief Rabbi’s Haggadah, Essays by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, page 52.

Modiin's main squre full to bursting during Bichat Hachama, Wednesday 8 April, Erev Pesach

On Wednesday morning before our Sedar night, here in Modiin I was able to take part in the celebration of the creation of the world, at the cities communal Birchat Hachama service. Here I saw the voices of joy and gladness as we the Jewish people were able to thank G-d and celebrate here in the land of Israel.
However, just as in the past our future in Israel is not secure. Just in the last few days, since the swearing in of the new Netanyahu Government we have heard many statements which has created questions about what Israel will look like in the future. We have seen Gerry Adams meet with the leader of Hamas in Gaza, we have seen Iran move forward with its Nuclear programme, we have heard President Obama say it is vital to create a two-state solution, and we have heard the new Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman say that it is for the new Israeli Government to set out a process for peace in Israel.

This Pesach I am going to continue enjoy celebrating the history of the Jewish people and our return to Israel, but in the coming weeks I hope to look at what awaits our future here.

Chag Sameach

p.s. I enjoyed being able to write this on 2nd day Pesach (Yom Tov in England).

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