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§341 Happy Birthday to Israel!

April 29, 2009

 

Happy Birthday to Israel! Today you are 61 years old. Exactly 61 years ago, this happened (proclamation of state at 01:55):

 

 

I don’t think there are many things that get me choked up (wife will correct me in comments if I’m wrong). But my beloved Homeland and my People is definitely one of them.

 

I grew up in Sweden. A country with no nationalistic mentality at all. People calling themselves nationalists were mostly racists, perverting the love of their country into hatred of others. This led to it being bad and almost taboo to like anything about Sweden. As if there was nothing to be proud of (and there is). This next to the fact that I learned that we are Jews, and we will one day return home to our homeland Israel where our grandfather already lives, is probably what sparked the Zionistic fire in my heart. That and God. Sweden became the cold every day boring life. Israel became the exciting warm future. I looked in a book of flags and spotted Israel’s flag with the Star of David. It was so beautiful. I just looked at it and thought “home – this is where I belong”. I grew up as a Swede, with Swedish language, culture etc – but I was Israeli in heart even before I had visited there.

 

Then, when I was 6 years old, I traveled with my family to Israel for the first time. I remember one specific moment outside of the hotel room when I saw three beautiful flags with the Star of David waving in the air freely. Waving proudly over a free people in their own country. There’s no way I could ever wave that flag over my house in Sweden or hang it out the window. We always had to be careful. Not that anything would happen, but just in case. But here – here is home. Here I can be myself. Here I can be the Israeli I always was, but was never raised to be. I was only 6 years old, but I bought myself my own little Israeli flag to hang on the wall in my room. I still have it.

 

 

As I grew older I learned more about the creation and establishment of Israel. How it was prophesized 5,000 years ago about the above very moment in 1948:

That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee. And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Deut. 30:3-6

 

“When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Psalm 126

 

My grandfather sent us tapes with Israeli folk songs. I learned many of them by heart without understanding the Hebrew language. There were many beautiful songs there. But the most beautiful one, that could really get me choked up, was the national hymn, written in the 1870’s:

 

 

 

כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה

 

 

 

 

Kol ‘od balleivav penimah

 

 

 

 

 

 

As long as in the heart, within,

נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,

 

 

 

 

Nefesh yehudi homiyah,

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Jewish soul still yearns,

וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה,

 

 

 

 

Ul(e)fa’atei mizrach kadimah,

 

 

 

 

 

 

And onward, towards the ends of the east,

עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה;

 

 

 

 

‘Ayin letziyon tzofiyah;

 

 

 

 

 

 

An eye still looks toward Zion;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,

 

 

 

 

‘Od lo avdah tikvateinu,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hope is not yet lost,

הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם,

 

 

 

 

Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim,

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hope of two thousand years,

לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,

 

 

 

 

Lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzeinu,

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be a free nation in our land,

אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.

 

 

 

 

Eretz-tziyon vy(e)rushalayim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

 

 

When I was 11 I visited Israel again. For the first time I saw a bit more of the reality and not the paradise that I had drawn in my head. But I was old enough to comprehend that no place is a paradise. I visited a school class with a friend, and the wish and urge to be a part of Israel, part of the school, learn the language, just grew more and more to me.

 

When I was 13 we moved. My first words as I stepped off the airplane were “A small step for human kind, but a huge leap for me”. I smelled the cold air. This was it. I was finally home again, after 2000 years of exile. No one will ever take me away from here again.

 

This came to the test five years later, when my parents decided to go back. I was 18 and I said “no way”. I didn’t come home from 2000 years of exile just to give up and go back to the old Europe. I would not go back. I stayed, and joined the army for my 3 years of serving my homeland. My parents went back. It was probably the toughest decision they ever made, knowing that I would stay no matter what, but they were in a situation that left them very few choices. My father later said that “If it turns out that we moved to Israel for those 5 years just for your sake, it was all worth it”. (Eventually, my sister also came back, so it wasn’t just me).

 

I decided to stay, after a very clear message from God that went straight into my heart. I have never heard him talk that clear before. And the Bible does say:

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalm 37:3-5

 

and also:

“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

Matthew 19:29

 

This year I celebrate 14 years in Israel. That’s more than half my life. I now have a beautiful wife since 6½ years back. She moved from Sweden to Israel for me, and she is just as Zionistic as I am. We have 3 beautiful children that are growing up in Israel. They learn both Hebrew and Swedish, and they go to an Israeli kindergarten where they wave Israeli flags on Independence Day and sing the very same songs that I sang when I was young without understanding the words.

 

Are my land and my people perfect? Far from it. But this land is built on a dream. And it is our mission to build that dream together, not run away from it as soon as it gets a little difficult. Jews outside of Israel who reads this – come home! You don’t belong over there! Your home is here!

 

This people started out as a small nomad tribe that had been Egyptian slaves. Today this little people is still alive, has the most ancient national heritage in the world, has influenced the entire world with the biblical principles of equality and democracy, and still lives in the same homeland and speaks the same language, despite being thrown out of here twice. If that is not God’s hand, what is? We are a chosen people, whether we want it or not. One traditional story suggests that God chose the Jewish nation because they were the lowliest of nations, and their success would be attributed to God’s might rather than their own ability. So forget about the anti-Semitic idea that we think we are better than others. Far from it.

 

So today we celebrate:

 

 

We celebrate 61 years of independence. 61 years of freedom. 61 years of fighting for our right to exist. 61 years of dreaming about peace while fighting for survival. We are back home, and we are back speaking our ancient language. No one will ever move us from here. Many tried. Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Bysantines, Muslems, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, Brittish, Palestinians. No one will ever succeed. Israel is here to stay forever.

 

And one day, we will look upon Him who we pierced. Our Messiah and king, Yeshua, will put his feet on the mount of Olives and every knee shall bow. And he will rule the world for a thousand years from Jerusalem. At that time the world will know one language. That language will not be English, or Spanish, or Latin, or Arabic. It will be Hebrew. Start learning today.

 

 

On a more private note I’m off work until Monday, and we have a dear dear friend from Sweden visiting us. Actually she is the one who introduced me and my wife to each other, and she has been friends with my wife for over 20 years. Bear in mind that we are all 27. I have “only” known her for 10 years.

 

flagbearer

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