BBQs, celebrations, and parties... Oh my!

posted 2 May 2017, 17:24 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin

Where in the world is Rabbi Eli?

It is Yom HaAtzmaut today, with the whole country hanging loose with BBQs, celebrations, and parties.

Ma'ale Adumim is formally a "West Bank settlement", though a well developed town 7 km from Jerusalem, built from scratch on a spot of Nahal outpost overseeing Judaean desert.
We sit in our dad's home, combining cooking and feasting with spring cleaning. I just flew in from Europe the night before, and this is my one day off before a week packed with work, so I better make most of it.


The ancient olive tree at the entrance to Maale Adumim

Around 15 minutes ago the annual IDF Air Force parade flight passed over our heads. This year, it included three F-35 stealth fighters. Also for the first time this year, its flight path over 40-ish cities and towns included two Bedouin villages, at the request of their residents (who support unequivocally the state of Israel, and whose youth proudly serve in the IDF).

Here is a special GoPro project that enables you to join Israeli soldiers, via remote camera lodged on their helmets, on training exercises throughout the country. From Golani operation in Hebron and overtaking Hezbollah black ops cell to patrolling Egyptian border and the waters of Haifa port, just pick the unit you want to follow and click its logo:

The large computer screen in the living room has been showing the International Bible Quiz since mid-morning. It is our default independence day entertainment, with the teen finalists of regional contests in Mexico, Canada, US, UK, Australia, and Israel taking their final challenge in the presence of the Prime Minister, Minister of Education and other dignitaries, not to mention the whole country watching.

There is something very special this year though; my older sister Irina is right there, sitting on the jury panel (she'll be home in time for the cake though she doesn't know it yet). We hope to see her on the screen but they don't show the judges till the end. The quiz is fascinating enough though. Between us, we have 2 rabbis in this room, 3 full-time yeshivah students and over a dozen men and women with years of formal and thorough Jewish education. And all of us combined cannot answer more than half the questions any of those school kids crack without even breaking a sweat.

In a dramatic finale, the winner is a secular student from a non-religious Israeli school. It hasn't happened for 30 years. How cool is that?

Yet there's no need to go that far to find an example of successful diversity.
We are as diverse a family as you will find within the Jewish world of Israel. Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Yemenite, Sabras and immigrants, from ultra-Orthodox Litvak and Hassidic to Conservative and Reform zealously anti-religious, we function as a family and all love each other dearly.

What a great illustration to the way Israeli society works, what an awesome way to say:

Happy 69th b-day, Israel! Keep it up!
Mazal tov!  RE.