The case made against a Jewish State begins and ends with the argument that Judaism is only a religion and not a people. This distinction while subtle is crucial to understand because it allows detractors to argue that the Jewish People are not deserving of a sovereign nation of their own. The argument goes that Israel’s adversaries take no issue with Judaism, it is the Jews unwavering belief in peoplehood and nationhood that cannot be accepted.
Jerusalem has been our home for over 3500 years, from King David to today. From Solomon’s Temple to the soldiers who bravely fought and unified Jerusalem on June 7, 1967 (28 Iyar 5727). Today (secular calendar) we commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence (May 14, 1948). Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim (28 Iyar), a holy day that celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem after the 6-day war in 1967. 51 years after the reunification of Jerusalem the United States has acted on what Jews have long felt, Jerusalem is the Capital of The State of Israel. Jerusalem has always been the Capital of The Jewish People, regardless of the political reality of an embassy or state department website.
On the last days of Passover, we are taught only to do a portion of the Hallel Service (psalms that praise God). The rationale being that the final days of the holiday commemorated the Israelites crossing the sea of reeds. As the Israelites made it to shore, the waters crashed back down to sea level drowning the Egyptians. The Midrash recounts that the angels started to sing out and God stopped them proclaiming that they were singing as his children were drowning. Gloating is not Jewish! Jews around the world may rejoice, but we do so realizing that others, perhaps even those who pray for our demise, are suffering greatly perhaps even by our hands.
The move today is a validation of the Jewish claim of peoplehood and nationhood. As Fmr. Ambassador Dan Shapiro recently wrote in a Washingtonpost article – “Moving the U.S. Embassy to a location in West Jerusalem is correct and reasonable. West Jerusalem has served as Israel’s capital since the founding of the state, and no plausible two-state map would change that. Our embassy’s presence in the city reinforces the legitimacy of historic Jewish ties to the city, which are too often denied by Palestinians.”
Not unlike the end of a wedding ceremony, when we break a glass; our rabbis taught, that where there is joy, there should also be trepidation. I applaud the move of the embassy, and yet the realities on the ground have not changed. I will continue to pray for the safety and security of The State of Israel and that Israel live up the burden of being The Jewish State.