Martin M. van Brauman
In March of 2008, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks wrote these words to a dedication for a series of songs about Israel as part of the Front Page publication by the Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem, Israel. I want to share Rabbi Sacks’ great words for they are inspiring words for me and are worth repeating to a more general audience.
Israel is the Jewish home of hope, the place where our people were born in the age of Abraham and where, after the longest exile ever endured by a people, it was reborn in our time.
Proclaiming the State, on 14 May 1948, 5 Iyar 5708, David Ben Gurion said: ‘The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world. Exiled from the Land of Israel the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their national freedom.’
We pray for it still, for there has hardly been a day in sixty years when the people of Israel have not lived without war or the fear of war, terror or the fear of terror.
Israel, brought into being three years after the Jewish people stood eyeball to eyeball with the angel of death during the Holocaust, is the Jewish people’s collective affirmation of life. Its existence and achievements are living testimony to one of Judaism’s greatest message to humankind: the principled defeat of tragedy by the power of hope.
And though Israel was built by human hands, it is impossible not to sense beneath its history, the hand of heaven. One sentence reverberated in my mind throughout this project, a line from Hallel: ‘This is the Lord’s doing. It is wondrous in our eyes.’