Rabbi's Message, Rabbi Alvin Kass, April 2015
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD
HAPPY 67TH BIRTHDAY ISRAEL
As we celebrate the 67th birthday of the State of Israel this month, we still stand awed before the miracle of its rebirth. Nothing has happened in 67 years to diminish in the slightest the marvelousness of this epochal occurrence. After two thousand years of history marked by exile, persecution, and oppression, the establishment of the State of Israel portended the dawn of a new era of deliverance in which joy and laughter, hope and elation, would be the lot of every Jew.
To be sure, the birth of Israel was also attended by many problems most of which still remain unresolved. Could such a tiny, helpless, infant country survive in a world filled with enemies? How could a country continue to exist ringed about by neighbors who regarded its creation as a tragedy and who desired its immediate annihilation? Even such good friends as the United States appear to be having second thoughts and are plagued by doubts over whether a strongly pro-Israel policy is in the best interests of the nation. Anti-Semitism throughout the world, finally, which many thought would cease to exist after Jewish life became normalized following the acquisition of a homeland, has in many respects, actually been intensified.
All of these difficulties notwithstanding, Jews the world over have a right and a duty to rejoice that Israel has manifested an unquenchable will to live and a determination to prevail against even the fiercest of adversaries. If the phrase, "the survival of the fittest" ever described any biological phenomenon, it certainly has applicability and relevance to the saga of Israel's refusal to go the way of the mastodon and dinosaur.
Incredible daring and toughness have insured Israel's capacity to confront successfully the parade of tyrants and dictators who strutted across the pages of history shouting that Israel must be destroyed.
Fully as significant as Israel's physical survival has been the noteworthiness of its accomplishments as a state. Within the space of three generations the country has evolved an extraordinary array of cultural institutions concerned with art, literature, music, history, archaeology, not to mention its pacesetting status in many areas of science and industry. It has succeeded in collecting exiles from the four corners of the earth and implanting within them those political and social virtues that would enable them to live as disciplined citizens in a modern state with a viable economy and a stable social order. In a sea of repressive totalitarian regimes, Israel stands out as a lone island of democracy where the political shoals and pitfalls of self-government have been masterfully transcended.
We have good and ample reason on the occasion of the 67th birthday of the modern state of Israel to express our gratitude to the Almighty for its strength, its vitality, its idealism and its promise for the future.