Opinion | Israel at 71: Repentance, Life and Gratitude

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By Bat El Trabelsi

I like the number 10. There is this comfort in integers, with 10 being the prime one. Not seven and a half, not 0.333 (I am looking at you, one third) — just a perfect 10. Ten out of 10.

Judaism offers us 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These 10 days are an anchor in the Jewish calendar, an emotional and spiritual integer. That anchor has a name and a purpose; it allows us to slow down and contemplate the weight and complexity of life.

Israel offers us another 10-day period between Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day). These days do not have an official name, but they are symbolic and correspond with the Ten Days of Repentance. These are the 10 days we remember the horrors and the persecution, mourn the fallen and acknowledge the price we still pay, and celebrate all that we accomplished. Ten days of reflection as a nation.

Several years ago, an initiative began to call these 10 days between Holocaust Memorial Day and Independence Day the “Ten Days of Gratitude,” which has spread through Israeli society. It includes learning and practicing the art of being grateful and kind in meaningful ways throughout the country.

As we are about to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 71st birthday, I would like to suggest an anchor of gratefulness and celebration of Israel, time to slow down and together appreciate accomplishments from this past year.

Israel is the seventh country to orbit the moon with a lunar lander called Beresheet. Yes, it crashed, but what an accomplishment. It was the smallest, cheapest, most quickly built lunar lander ever made. Last year, Israel won the Eurovision contest and the biggest celebration of peace and variety is being brought to us. Madonna will be there, and so will Gal Gadot, our Wonder Woman who inspires girls and women all around the world. There’s Linoi Ashram, the Israeli rhythmic gymnast, who is ranked second in the world and won too many medals to mention here. And then there’s “Eva’s Stories” by Mati Kochavi, which is up to 120 million views in just three months. This video project brings Holocaust education into the Instagram era. I am so grateful for those things, and so many more, and they are all worth celebrating and being grateful for. All year round.

I would like to end with one of my favorite quotes by A.D. Gordon: “There is no time to prepare for life, there is only time for life.” Life happens to us, we cannot escape it or prepare for it — but we can set anchors, as individuals and as a people, to enrich our lives with repentance, life and being grateful.

Happy Birthday, my dear Israel.

Bat El Trabelsi, from Tzfat, Israel, is a shaliach at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

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