Friday, 24 April 2009

Between Holocaust and Independence

Last week we commemorated Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Memorial Day.

This coming week we commemorate Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, days of memory and celebration for the creation and continued survival of the State of Israel.


I have been reading a recently completed PhD on our founding Rabbi of blessed memory, by Rabbi Dr Elliot Cosgrove, now of the Park Avenue Synagogue NY. Rabbi Cosgrove notes that Rabbi Jacobs was inducted as Rabbi of the Central Synagogue (of Manchester) one month before the Israeli Declaration of Independence and records, what he considers, ‘the most theologically-minded Zionist statement on record for Jacobs,’ published in early 1949;


“The upheaval through which our people have lived during the past ten years is so terrible that to attempt to explain it is to be smug and complacent…Yet one effect of that upheaval is that our people have been shocked out of its indifference to its future as a people on a land of its own. The iron clutch of the Galut has been compelled to release us and we, like our people of old in the time of the Exodus… are therefore able to celebrate the Pesach of our people. The slave mentality of the Galut-loving Jew who hated real freedom has been defeated with the establishment of the state of Israel.” (“Judaism and Freedom,” Chayenu)



Israel, as a nation State, is a marker of ‘real freedom,’ a freedom which is not cosy, but comes with challenges, burdens and complexities. It is only the ‘slave mentality,’ says Jacobs, which would reject this ‘real freedom.’ Our challenge is to celebrate this real freedom, as we celebrate the challenging freedom from Egypt. We may indeed pause to remove some wine from our cups, but if we dare lapse back into an ‘indifference to [our] future as a people on a land of [our] own’ we fail.


Shabbat shalom

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