May 14, 1948 - “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”
These were the words which marked the rebirth of the nation of Israel, 75 years ago. In the 75 years since the State of Israel was established, the nation has changed drastically — from a small, largely agricultural economy, to a leader in technology and innovation. From a nation grounded on the dream of an atheist, socialist utopia — to becoming an increasingly religious and family orientated culture. Israel stands out against the anti-religious, socialist trend of the west.
We had the opportunity to attend the official celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut, in Toronto. It was large event, with several thousand in attendance — the event overflowed out of the large gymnasium into the atrium behind. There were hundreds of families, grandparents, and other members of the community.
The program placed on our seats opened with the words of Ezekiel (Yechezkel 37): “He said to me, “Man, can these bones live again?”… I will put My breath into you and you shall live again, and I will set you upon your own soil. Then you shall know that I Hashem have spoken and have acted”
It continued: “We are reminded of the incredible story of the rebirth of the Jewish people in their indigenous homeland. After thousands of years of hoping and praying, under the most severe oppression, we have merited to witness the words of the prophets come to life.”
The presentation was split into two sections: Yom Hazikaron, and Yom HaAtzmaut — which are celebrated in Israel on the two adjoining days, which would have been April 25, and 26th of this year.
The ceremony for Yom Hazikaron featured a speech by a council woman for Efrat, Orit Samuels. She was introduced by a recorded speech of Rabbi Leo Dee — father of Maia and Rina Dee, and husband to Lucy Dee. Who were brutally gunned down by terrorists while travelling to be with family for Pesach (Passover). She relayed personal stories of the two young teenagers — and then her own experiences growing up in a place rocked by tragedy after tragedy.
Orit recounted how Rina had been talking with friends, about the “what if”, what if I’m the one taken in an act of terror — something no teenager should ever have to think about. Rina said, whatever they do — make sure they use a good picture. They always use such ugly ones!
Living in the mountains of Israel has always required an incredible amount of faith. Even in the time of Joshua, scripture recounts the faith in which Caleb goes up to take Hevron (Hebron).
“So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day; for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities: it may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out as the Lord said.” (Joshua 14:12, RSV)
The celebration for Yom HaAtzmaut, started with the raising of the flag and a local day school choir, singing Israeli folk songs.
There was also a speech by Mr. Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Canadian Conservative Party (CPC). Pierre served under the former PM of Canada, Stephen Harper. Harper was a strong supporter of Israel, while the United States could have hardly been called a friend under Obama — and incidentally Vice President Joe Biden. Pierre presented warm remarks, to a very enthusiastic audience. He has perviously committed to moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem — matching the policy of former President Trump.
He relayed personal stories of visiting Israel, which he has done on three occasions. Visiting the Golan Heights, and seeing the rockets rain down from Lebanon as Hezbollah targeted the families and homes of Israel. Of spending the Shabbat with an Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi and his family, in the heart of Jerusalem — listening to the kids sing the traditional prayers. He said it struck him in that moment, that no other religion practices the same traditions, in the same land as over 3000 years ago!
Pierre strongly affirmed his commitment to supporting Israel, and the right of the Jewish people to their aboriginal homeland. He spoke of the incredible accomplishments of the Jewish Nation — including making the desert bloom and the incredibly prophetic peace treaties of the Abraham Accords. He finished with Am Yisrael Chai, (The people of Israel lives)!
The question posed to the prophet Yechezkel (Ezekiel), was “Son of man, can these bones live?”.
There was on the seat, with the program — a magazine called Ha Mizrachi. I found in there, an article by Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel. He writes: “In his final vision of the exile, Yechezkel saw what seems to have been the darkest time the world had ever known, when all hope was lost. He saw mass graves of the Jewish people as dry bones and ashes. They cried out “Our bones are dried, our hope is lost, we are doomed” (Yechezkel 37:11). But like a burst of light from the womb of darkness, “avda tikvateinu,” “our hope is lost,” was transformed to “od lo avda tikvateinu,” “our hope is not lost.”… “If only I could show all the Jews who lost hope in Auschwitz and Warsaw the scenes around my home in Israel, as we celebrate this Yom HaAtzmaut. They would see Jews living in the mountains of Judea, working the Land with blossoming olive trees and vineyards that cascade down the hills. They would see Jewish children speaking Hebrew tending to our flock of sheep. If they could see all this, what would they think?”
This Yom HaAtzmaut, we can look back and see the incredible prophecies that have been fulfilled and continue to be fulfilled — what will another 75 bring? The return of Messiah, the rebuilding of the temple, and the restoration of the Kingdom?
Truly, the people of Israel live! (Am Yisrael Chai!).
This week's Bible in the News has been brought to you by Joshua Billington. Come back every week God willing to www.bibleinthenews.com