Jewish Journal


June 3, 2012

The great Independence Day debate: Letter 4



Israel Air Force jets fly in formation over Jerusalem during a rehearsal for Independence Day. (Photo: Reuters)

This the fourth letter in a debate on changing the date of Independence Day in Israel.  Readers who are not yet familiar with the debate can read more about it here.

Letter 4 is by Rabbi Dr. Michael Avraham, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and former teacher at the Yerucham Hesder Yeshiva.

After reading the comments by the rabbi it struck me that this [the proposed legislation] is a brilliant idea and incredibly effective. As he explains, with one thing and another, this holiday is moved all the time. So why not make a permanent arrangement?

Is there some kind of prohibition that this day can be a nice one for the Zionist worker who wants a long weekend? Where has this hatred come from for the barbecues that I like so much? It seems to me that if it’s a gentile constitution, then the [Remembrance Day] siren or wearing trousers or eating cornflakes are also a gentile constitution.

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Ultimately, it’s a pleasant and successful custom from our American cousins, and I see no reason not to adopt it (maybe our budget will also start to resemble theirs, who knows) [the rabbi refers here to the custom of celebrating holidays on certain days of the week, instead of insisting on specific dates - S.R.]. After a year or two, when the storm has abated, we will all forget about it and relate normally to Independence Day, in the same way that everyone celebrates it, just as we do most years without batting an eyelid.

For the sake of full disclosure: I’m aware of the fact that my position reflects the lack of religious sentiment I feel towards this day [Independence Day]. To me it is a civil-secular, not religious, holiday. Which of course does not negate the thanks due to the Holy One, just as I thank Him for the breakfast He provides for me each morning.

The attempts to infuse a religious sensibility into a civil day such as this are in general doomed to failure, and I believe to be artificial.

Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar. 

Read the previous correspondence:
Letter 1: Rabbi Avraham Gisser
Letters 2 and 3: Rabbi Benayahu Bruner and Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth

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