Today is DAY NINETEEN, which makes TWO WEEKS and FIVE DAYS of the Omer.
Yom HaAtzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day, begins tonight at sundown. But that day of celebration is preceded by Yom HaZikaron, a Memorial Day for the soldiers who have died to establish and defend the State of Israel, as well as victims of terrorism in Israel. This year, Israel remembers 26,969 men, women, and children, and virtually every Israeli has a personal connection to one of them.
At 11:00am this morning (Israel time), a siren sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. The entire country stood still. On the highways, drivers stopped and stood by their cars. For the entire day, television stations broadcast the names and pictures of the fallen, accompanied by songs of remembrance. A national memorial ceremony was held at the Western Wall Plaza, though this year no crowd was allowed to gather. At 53 military cemeteries, "IDF soldiers will hold a candlelight vigil and a military cantor will recite the Kaddish."
The solemnity of this day—the tones of loss and sacrifice—set the stage for the joy of Yom HaAtzma'ut. That is why our program this evening will begin with a "tekes ma-avar," a ceremony of transition from darkness to light.
May the memory of Israel's fallen endure among us as a blessing.
Torah for Today
Rabbi David S. Widzer
In honor of Yom HaAtzma'ut, this week we are sharing places in Israel that inspire/delight us.
THE TOWER OF DAVID MUSEUM, Jerusalem
I suppose it is not that surprising that both rabbis consider sites in Jerusalem to be favorite places that inspire and delight us. Jerusalem is, after all, home to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Judaism’s spiritual center, as well as Israel’s government. It is a city filled with history, both ancient and modern.
During my rabbinical school year in Jerusalem, 1995-1996, the city was celebrating a major milestone. Dating King David’s conquest of Jerusalem to 1004 BCE (relatively well-accepted among researchers and archeologists), the Israeli government declared 1996 to be Jerusalem’s tri-millennium, 3000 years as the center of Jewish life. I still have a large “Jerusalem 3000” flag like the ones that flew that year from every lamp post in the city.
In a medieval citadel located at the Jaffa Gate into the Old City sits my favorite museum in Israel, the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem. The Tower of David is part of the walls of the Old City and the history of the compound reflects the complexity of the city’s past. Interactive, multi-media exhibits detail the different periods in Jerusalem’s life, including its first appearances in the Bible connected to Abraham, King David making it his capital, the First and Second Temples, conquests and rule by Romans, Muslims, Crusaders, and Ottomans, the British Mandate period, and its role as the capital of the modern State of Israel. The Tower of David Museum also hosts spectacular nighttime sound and laser shows, multi-sensory experiences with video projections that bring the history of the city to life.
What inspires me about the Tower of David Museum is the combination of how well the history of Jerusalem is told and its location literally within the walls of the Old City. Israel is a place where every stone, every building, every square foot of land, is laden with history. At the Tower of David Museum, the walls come to life to share their story.
Coming This Week
Ethics Study Group with Rabbi Noah
Every Wednesday, 12:00-1:00pm
Check your daily email for meeting details
Managing Anxiety During the Pandemic
with Dr. Tara Sager
Wednesday, 4/29, 8:30pm
Check your daily email for meeting details
Come join us for an informal and interactive discussion about managing anxiety during the pandemic. Dr. Tara Sager will discuss symptoms and ways to cope with anxiety during these challenging times. An interactive Q&A and discussion will follow. Dr. Sager is a member of Kol Dorot, mom of three young boys, and parent in both our Religious School and Early Learning Center. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Cresskill (and currently via telehealth). Check out her website at www.drtarasager.com.
In Case You Missed It
1) Friday Night Shabbat Service
Rabbi David and Rabbi Noah comment on the Torah portion "Tazria/Metzora," the newly-relevant Torah perspective on epidemics and quarantine.
2) Havdallah with Cantor Sarah
Featuring Marc and Emma!