Prompting Discussion on Yom Ha’atzmaut

By Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Chief of Program Strategy

For many Jews in North America this year, it is particularly important, poignant, and/or challenging to mark Israeli Independence Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut. As you gather this week, for Shabbat, at Hebrew School, or in celebration of the holiday, or as you wind down your day, Moving Traditions offers you some questions to spur conversation with family and friends.

These questions can be shared aloud and used for group discussion or dialogue between a few family members. Try to choose at least one from each section. We encourage you bring a spirit of curiosity and openness as you engage in cross-generational dialogue.

On Home and our North American Homelands

  • What do you answer when someone asks you where you are from? What makes it feel like a home? Is home for you most about an attachment to people, specific geography/land, memories, history or something else?
  • What makes it feel unlike a home? Has the answer to this question shifted for you over the past seven months?

On Israel as a Homeland

  • What are three images or emotions that you associate with the idea of Israel as a Jewish homeland? Has the answer to this question shifted for you over the past 7 months?
  • Does Israel feel like a home for you? Why or why not?

On Homeland and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • Eretz Yisrael/the Land of Israel, known and loved by many Jews as a homeland, is also known and loved by many Palestinians as their homeland. What emotions arise in you when you consider this reality?
  • Do different generations of your family think about the conflict differently? How might you learn from one another?

Hopes for Israel, Israelis and Palestinians

  • What is a hope you want to express for Israel on this Yom Ha’atzmaut, for all Israelis (Jews, Muslims and Christians) and/or for the Jewish people this week?
  • What is a hope you want to express for Palestinians?

Optional Closing Activity

Watch this three-minute video which was posted on the Instagram page of the Hand in Hand Jewish/Arab schools on the morning after the Iranian rocket attack on Israel, with the sentiment that we are all in this together:

Listen closely and you will hear the children say “ha-tikvah b’phinu,” the hope is in our mouths; Hatikvah is also, of course, the name of the Israeli national anthem.

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