Jews with Views – Yom HaAtzmaut Edition 5784

What moment in your life made you proudest to be Israeli?

BY RABBI BEN MENORA

Early in my IDF service, I was heading back to base one Sunday morning and ran into a friend who had already been serving for a while. He asked me how my service was going, and I said “great.” Somewhat skeptical, he said: “I guess ‘the slap’ hasn’t hit you yet.”

Soon after, our commanders woke us up one night for high intensity training – with gas masks on. At one point they gave us a short break. After removing my gas mask, a commander called me out in front of everyone: “Menora, you think this is funny?! You better wipe that smile off your face, or I’ll make you!” 

When I couldn’t stop smiling, he let me explain myself. I told him how happy I was to be there. After thousands of years, Hashem brought us home, and gave us opportunities to build our Land, our state and our army. At that moment, I felt so proud to be living that full experience of Hashem’s gift.

I later realized it was that perspective that kept the “slap” away during my service. It is that perspective that makes me proud and grateful to be Israeli every day since.

Rabbi Ben Menora and his wife Ellie are graduates of Mizrachi’s Shalhevet program, and are the OU-JLIC directors at Binghamton University.

BY AYELET GLATT

The moment I felt proudest to be an Israeli was shortly after October 7th. While I did not fully grasp the magnitude of the tragedy that struck us on Simchat Torah, I distinctly remember feeling so immensely proud when reading that over 300,000 Israelis had already made it back home, ready for whatever their country might need from them.

I myself had just returned to Israel after two years of shlichut in Cape Town, South Africa, only three weeks before the beginning of the war. Many people asked me if I regretted coming back right before the war. My answer to them was: “On the contrary! In times like these, there is absolutely no other place I’d rather be than at home, with my people, my amazing, crazy people, a third of a million of whom dropped everything they were doing around the world to sprint back to a country under attack.”

“Who is like Your people, Israel?” What we witnessed in the weeks following October 7th was nothing short of supernatural.

Ayelet Glatt is the international coordinator for Shagririm BaLev. She has a degree in Tanach and Special Education from Herzog College, and was a World Bnei Akiva shlicha in Cape Town. 

BY MARC ROSENBERG

There are so many rich moments over the past 21 years that have made my life in Israel extremely meaningful and significant. I have had the amazing privilege of escorting a plane full of 250 new olim aboard a Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight – walking down the aisle of the plane with a wide spectrum of Jews in age, practice and beliefs, all heading in the same direction to build their lives together in Israel. 

My niece in New Rochelle reminded me of an experience that stands out the most. Six years ago, I was at the airport very early to receive an Aliyah flight. Among thousands of people who came to celebrate the arrival, we cheered and shouted as they came off the bus. When it seemed like the last bus had arrived, the crowds flowed into the hangar for the start of a welcome ceremony. Suddenly, we noticed an El Al truck pulling up – a special vehicle that helps wheelchair bound passengers deplane. The group turned around to run, dance and shout to welcome an elderly couple who were making Aliyah, just arriving a bit later than others. I recognized them; both Holocaust survivors, they were parents of our neighbors in Jerusalem. Eighty years ago, elderly people were the first to be murdered by the Nazis. But now, the way hundreds of Israelis fulfilled the mitzvah of respecting our elders with love and care made me beam in pride at the Jewish nation and how far we have come.

Marc Rosenberg is the VP of Diaspora Partnerships at Nefesh B’Nefesh, which is revitalizing Aliyah from North America. He is an experienced educator and lives in Jerusalem with his wife and family.

BY YOCHEVED HARTMAN

I was deeply proud to be Israeli when I watched President Herzog speak on video to the rally in Washington earlier this year. I was proud to belong to a country with a President who speaks a Jewish language, cited ancient Jewish texts and used G-d’s name in his blessings. 

I am proud to call Israel my home, I am proud that the Jewish people have a spiritual and national homeland, and that I have the great privilege of helping build it.

Yocheved Hartman spearheaded the Mizrachi missions throughout the past few months, and is studying in the ‘Morot l’halacha’ program at Matan HaSharon.

BY RABBI AHARON HERSKOVITZ

As part of our preparation for shlichut in the UK five years ago, I went with other emissaries-in-training to welcome a group of olim who were getting off a plane from France. A massive event was arranged to welcome them, with music and food, family and friends, government figures and technical staff all on hand to greet these new arrivals with flags, singing and hugs. I remember the look of joy on the olim’s faces, the feeling that they had arrived in a new country that was happy that they were here, and feeling a strong sense of pride. 

In many places around the world, immigration is viewed as a problem that has to be “managed” one way or another. Even when immigrants are welcome, it is often out of a sense of pity for people who were suffering in their home countries. But here immigration is viewed as a blessing. It’s not about strangers we are allowing into our land, but about welcoming home our brothers and sisters. 

Rabbi Aharon Herskovitz is the Rav of Kehillat Shevet Achim in Netanya, where he lives with his wife and five children. He also works as a clinical psychologist in Ra’anana. 

© 2024 World Mizrachi

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