Friday Night Israel

Goal: To connect the idea of Israel to the Jewish values embodied in Shabbat.

How:

  • Home ritual

During Friday night dinner at home, a family can add a brief ceremony, like a seder, to celebrate Israel’s upcoming birthday.

As you sit down to Friday night dinner, you can say a few words and use symbols to tie this dinner to Israel’s upcoming birthday.

After Shalom Aleichem and before Kiddush, the leader and guests can read:

Israel is our Artzeinu, Artzeinu means “our land.”  Israel was Jacob’s other name.  The family of Israel became the nation of Israel.  The Nation of Israel moved into the Land of Canaan and made it the Land of Israel.

Jews have always lived in Israel since the return from the Babylonian Exile.  There weren’t always a lot of Jews, but Jews have always lived there.  Israel has been ruled by Greeks, the Romans, the Muslims, the Crusaders, the Turks, the British – and that is only the short list.

Starting in the 1800s Jews began moving back to Israel with the hope of creating a new Jewish State.  Chalutzim, pioneers, moved to Israel, bought land, and settled it.  In some cases they turned swamps into fertile fields.  A lot of things happened: World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, and a United Nations resolution.

In 1948 the new State of Israel was born.  Israel was reborn. Jews from around the world began the process  of making Israel a modern, democratic, creative, inventive force.

Israel is the place where any Jew from around the world can find safety and freedom.  It is a place that works daily on creating and growing Jewish culture.  It is Artzeinu, our Land.

(taken from Artzeinu: An Israel Encounter by Joel Lurie Grishaver, Torah Aura Publications).

Let us now recite Kiddush in honor of Shabbat and also in honor of Israel’s upcoming birthday.

After Kiddush and before motzi:

As we just recited in kiddush, Shabbat reminds us to celebrate the creation of the world and the freedom we gained during the exodus from Egypt.   In this sense, Shabbat is a combination of both Rosh Hashanah and Passover  every week.  Both those themes – creation and freedom – can help us celebrate Israel’s birthday and just like we did a few weeks ago on Passover, we use symbols to make the connection.

On a special plate, put a cut-out Israeli flag, an orange and a cell phone or a picture of cell phone.

The Orange symbolizes the efforts of the Jews who resettled Israel to make it once again a fertile land.  Even today Israeli farmers are known throughout the world for being able to grow plants in very dry regions, they have made the desert bloom.  The orange has become a symbol of Israeli agriculture around the world.

The cell phone that is used all over the world owes a lot to Israeli engineers and scientists.  The next time you send a text or make call from outside, think about how Hebrew speaking engineers made this happen.  Israel is smaller than New Jersey but it’s technological output is greater than most countries 5x its size.

The Israeli flag is based on the striped Tallit we wear in synagogues to pray.  The flag reminds us that  the main symbols and language of Israel are Jewish symbols that unite Jews across the world.  Every day Israel creates new Hebrew songs for us to learn and new Jewish ideas that add to our celebrations wherever we live.

In the motzi we are about to recite, we thank God for bringing forth bread from the land, the earth.  We also thank God for all the great things come from a specific land, the land and State of Israel, a modern thriving country.

Additional ideas: A few foods that remind us of Israel can be served.

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