This month, as we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, we stand between Pesach, the celebration of our freedom from slavery in Eretz Mitzrayim and American Independence Day, when we celebrate our freedom from English rule.
Independence has been defined as freedom from the control or influence of others. Freedom is defined as the ability to act or change without constraint.
But, what do these things really mean?
It might be easier to understand freedom and independence if we try to imagine, for just a moment, the absence of these gifts.
What if you couldn’t leave your home without the fear of being arrested—or worse? What if we couldn’t enter a synagogue, or any house of worship, to pray together because religion was no longer allowed? What if you couldn’t read what you chose, watch what you enjoyed, love who you loved?
In May, 1948, Israel declared itself a state and became free of the British Mandate. We finally had a homeland--and we still do. A place to visit; a place to live; a place to be free.
There is a saying that “Freedom isn’t free” and it’s not. But, anything worth having is typically worth the price.
The day before Yom Ha’atzmaut we observe Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Day of Remembrance, when we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, the fallen soldiers who fought for the independence Israel enjoys today and those who perished fighting terrorism in the Land. They believed their lives were worth the fight for our safety and freedom.
As we celebrate the independence of our homeland this month, let us also remember the men and women who made this celebration possible and let us never forget what a gift our freedom truly is.