How Ami Magazine Convinced Me to Celebrate Yom Ha-Atzmaut

The editorial in Ami did not promote such celebration, of course. It provided an original and thought-provoking reason to celebrate its non-celebration, so to speak. Survivors of the Holocaust would naturally take great comfort in seeing the creation of the State as a Divine Hand reaching down to comfort the bedraggled remnant of the Jewish people. It took principled courage, claims the author, to resist what he calls “the comforting interpretation of Jewish history.” Survivors refused the convenience of such an interpretation of the events around them out of fealty to their religious convictions, which had no room for a secular state replacing the yearnings of the Jewish soul. (You can and should read the original, which is posted here.)

The implication is that those who continue to ignore Israel’s Independence Day act in the same spirit today. “It [Yom Ha-Atzmaut] was celebrated last week throughout the world by countless Jewish people, though not by many in the Orthodox Jewish community. Yom Ha-Atzmaut is generally either ignored or treated with disdain by most Orthodox Jews.”

The piece has generated vigorous discussion. Is it true that most Orthodox Jews ignore Yom Ha-Atzmaut? Do not a majority of Jews who accept the Thirteen Principles of Faith, i.e. the Rambam’s definition of who is an “insider,” in fact celebrate the day? (We should probably accept the author’s protestation that by “Orthodox” he meant “charedi,” and was guilty of poor word choice, but not malice.) Is it true that “subsequent…military action stirred additional rabbinic opposition to Zionism, and was seen as proof that the Zionist idea was, from a perspective of Jewish tradition, illicit from the start?”


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