Today we celebrate the holiday of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence day, which recognizes the formal establishment of the State of Israel.
Directly preceding Yom Ha’atzmaut, the country also observed, Yom Hazikaron. Yom Hazikaron is the day when Israel honors all of the soldiers who died fighting to protect the land. What is beautiful about these holidays being linked, is that it emphasizes the notion that Israelis owe their independence and the very existence of the state, to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it.
Jewish tradition also mirrors this sentiment. It is customary at the end of a Jewish wedding that the groom stomps on a glass to break it. A common explanation of this is that we are always supposed to remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, even amidst our greatest moments of happiness, and that we recognize we exist in a broken world in need of healing.
Yom Ha’atzmaut offers us a day of that much needed healing. In many communities, it is one of a few occasions in which Jewish organizations and synagogues come together to rejoice regardless of their ideology and methods of observance. It allows us all to celebrate and stand in solidarity with the Land of Israel and with each other.
May our celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut today remind us that we are stronger together. That there will be struggles along the way, some of which are severe. But if we stand together there is more that unites us than divides us, and that is truly something to be celebrated.