Yom Ha'atzmaut

Israel celebrates its 68th Day of Independence this week. Let me put my cards on the table. I'm not dispassionate when it comes to Israel. Quite the contrary.
On this important day, I can live with these dual feelings: an immense pride as a Jew in the glories of the Jewish state, and a realization that the challenges facing Israel are profound and require new initiatives.
Security issues still loom large and likely will for the foreseeable future. Yet Israelis also understand that the best way to counter those seeking to challenge the Jewish State's existence is to build a stronger Israeli society.
At moments like this, we like to see the helpers. It is affirming and heart-warming to see the altruism of others and to see how individuals and communities stand together. We must not forget the positives, even as we face tragedy.
These very different "shots heard round the world" should both call us to attention and remind us of everything we have to celebrate and be thankful. May those who are bereft be comforted. May those who sustained injuries find a healing of wholeness.
As Israel celebrates its 65th birthday, we should pause to marvel at the many successes of the Jewish state. Democracies around the world, including the U.S., have taken centuries to achieve the type of political, social and economic advances that define Israel's existence today.
Sixty-five years ago the State of Israel was born. Yom Ha'atzmaut commemorates the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. The root letters of the word atzmaut can be translated as "essence." This poem is my attempt to share and celebrate a small slice of Israel's essence.
Simply put, Israel is exceptional and Her exceptionality needs to be celebrated, not condemned, which is exactly what we should do this Yom Ha'Atazmaut, Israel Independence Day.