"We thank You, for the miraculous deliverance,for the heroism and for the triumphs in the battles of our ancestors in those days at this season."
These words were recited in Conservative congregations on this day of Israel's 61st birthday. I imagine that most of us are familiar with these words because of their association to Hannukah and Purim;indeed, the Orthodox do not recite these words today; Somehow, al hanisim-the miracles were performed only in the distant past,and these sacred words are not to be uttered for miracles of contemporary significance.
As is the case of all prayer we are bidden to recapture ,recognize and rediscover the miraculous in our personal and collective lives.Similarly, for us to fully grasp the wonder of Israeli independence, we must look backward in time-'Bayamim ha-haym-in those days-so as to renew our sense of gratefulness and wonder at the uniqueness of that historical event.
Beyond our current cynicism and for many others, indifference, the al hanisim prayer summons us to once again enter into an experience of re-enactment, of re-living, re-membering, the original moment of Jewish national resurrection by reciting words of memory and renewal.
"In the days that Your children were returning to their borders...the gates to the land of our ancestors were closed before those who were fleeing from the sword. When enemies from within the land together with seven neighboring nations sought to annihilate Your people, You, in Your great mercy, stood by them in time of trouble...You gave them courage to meet their foes, to open the gates to those seeking refuge and to free the land of its armed invaders... For all these blessings we shall ever praise You."
The past beckons us to rediscover the reason for the anniversary celebration of Israel.
So mired are we in the intractable, and dangerous deadlock that stands in the way of peace, that our hearts are closed to the marvel of Jewish renewal on the land of Israel, a renewal of autonomy in all aspects of human life, a renewal of pride in achievements that encompass every field of human endeavor-from the arts to the sciences and the world of commerce, a renewal of the Jewish spirit and ethos as an eternal people. Can we forget for a moment that the gates of Israel are open to every single Jew no matter the circumstances or status of that individual? How can we not be proud knowing that millions our our brothers and sisters have been rescued because of Israel? Moreover, Israel has been a haven for refugees of other nationalities, whose only criterion for entry into the land was the human need for protection and refuge.
Sixty one years is quite a short span of time in the life of a nation; it is still middle age for individuals living in our modern age when life expectancy has soared!
Yet, so much has been done -so much has been built, restored, strengthened and revitalized as a result of the heroism of our people and the goodness of the Source of life.
How can we not be grateful? How can we not praise and rejoice, singing songs of hopeful renewal and further growth toward that eventual messianic moment of peace and well-being for all?
Go back to 1948-bayamim ha-haym-and remember- in that memory Israel lives-AM YISRAEL CHAI!