Few things are more quintessentially Israeli than the hour or so that marks the passage from Yom Hazikaron, or Memorial Day, to Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Independence Day. One moment you’re mourning your friends and relatives who had fallen in defense of the homeland, the next you’re dancing and drinking and worry-free. It’s a tough emotional juggling act to master, but one at which Israelis are inherently adept, understanding the joy and the sacrifice are intertwined.
“There is something poetic and compelling about this transition and how we wrestle with the pain and the pride, the loss and the legacy,” said Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, who happened to have been born right after said moment of transition and who will be presiding, along with several other rabbis, over a “transition ceremony” in Manhattan this evening. “This is in many ways a Jewish moment—wrestling with the night to emerge into light is the very meaning of the name ‘Israel’—Jacob named so for wrestling all night long with the unknown, and named Israeli as the one who wrestled with mystery, and prevailed.”
The ceremony, Rabbi Lau-Lavie added, will include songs as well as silence, as well as “poetry by Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, alongside prayers for justice and a conversation about what our deepest wishes, Israelis and Americans, committed to honoring the past and rising to a better future. It starts with honest conversation even if uncomfortable about where we need to meet and where we need to grow from.”
In this spirit, the ceremony will be followed by a concert of the Israeli pop star Yael Deckelbaum, who will perform the “Prayer of the Mothers,” a song she recorded in collaboration with Women Wage Peace, a group of Israeli and Palestinian activists committed to ending the conflict. The event also marks the launch of DJL (Downtown Jewish Life) a new coalition of 30 downtown Jewish organizations brought together by the 14th Street Y with the support of the UJA federation and Covenant Foundation.
If you’re looking for a meaningful way to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut this evening, look no further.
For more information on the ceremony and the concert, and to purchase tickets, click here.