Friday, April 24, 2015

A Special Birthday Party

Yom shishi, 5 Iyar 5775.

I just don't remember this kind of enthusiasm for the significance of the Fourth of July! Perhaps that is because we Americans are generations-removed from gaining our freedom as a nation. Perhaps it is because Memorial Day is a couple of months before Independence Day, so the meaning of the one is not tied so intimately to the meaning of the other.

It cannot be denied that having Yom HaZikaron blending into Yom HaAtzma'ut has a special power: these sacrificed their lives, these precious lives were stolen too young... and we have this country, fought for and fiercely defended, on the soil given to our people thousands of years ago by God. We feel the anguish of the loss of 23,320 members of our family. And immediately after that, we feel the fierce triumph and joy in holding and building this Jewish country.

What I love here in Israel in general, and in Neve Daniel in particular, is that adults and children, Bnei Akiva students and little kids, soldiers and civilians -- whether native-born or immigrant -- seem to be caught up in the drama and joy of the day. Yes, there will be barbecues and other celebratory gestures. But there is also a lot of work that goes into the patriotic ceremonies that cannot help but bring tears of pride.

Little stars, performing for their loved ones.

Every parental heart danced right along with the little ones.

I can imagine how beautiful this was supposed to be: Adam singing a lovely song with his strong voice, doves released to fly free overhead... Unfortunately, in the unseasonable cold, the poor birds really wanted to stay in their warm huddle in their crates. Ah, well. Man plans, and God laughs.

The Bnei Akiva "daglanut." For more information about this beautiful tradition, see my friend Romi's post here: In addition to the well-choreographed moves, let's not overlook that these tough (and slightly crazy) kids were in tee shirts, while many of the rest of us were in winter coats!
The Dearly Beloved awaiting the start of the ceremony. As usual, he is trying to disappear discreetly into the crowd. But it's very, very cold -- so he had to wear a hoodie under his usual holiday attire.

May she long wave free and proud.

Even in the cold, fireworks warm the soul!

"You're grown, but still a little kid inside, right?" My Hebrew must have been "good enough," because I got a very sweet smile from this soldier, followed by "B'vadai!" -- "Of course!" Only in Neve Daniel, with strong "winter" winds blowing, would the young people still make cotton candy and popcorn.

Thank you to Amit and Tamar and Hadas and all of the other people who worked so hard to make this ceremony such a beautiful event!

Happy 67th birthday, Israel! L'tiferet Medinat Yisrael!

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