Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 2 - Rabbi Dalia Marx (PhD)

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,,

Israel’s 75 birthday makes us stop and remember that the state’s existence, despite all the difficulties and hardships – is not to be taken for granted! Less than three years after the Holocaust, the most terrible catastrophe our people, and maybe all of humanity, have ever experienced, our country was established, without proper conditions and against all odds. How can it that explained?

Hope! Uncompromising hope, two thousand years of hope, that became the foundational building blocks of the State of Israel. This hope is what we should be reminded of during these days, when many people are falling into despair.

Despair is a comfortable blanket that invites us to snuggle, but it can also be a great elevator!

The philosopher Aaron David Gordon, wrote 110 years ago to the author Yosef Chaim Brenner, about the phenomenal potential of despair: “Show us the individuals! Show us the desperate! Show us the individuals that are not lazy, that don’t leave their commitments. And show us the desperate, that invest their despair in one building! You will see and be convinced about the power of revival and creativity that can create the Land of Israel”.  (The Nation and the Labor, p. 160)

We cannot surrender to despair. If we will, we shall discover that our darkest fears will come true. Instead, let us invest our challenges in building. In the end, those who will lead the conversation, those who will not give up - are the ones that will write the history of our people.

Thus, without any allocations or funding, we see many vivid, hopeful grassroots initiatives growing in Israel, all emphasizing the importance of loving the foreigner, fair and equal relations between the genders, between different groups and different nations, and social justice. Let us hold on to them and make them more powerful.

We are headed towards troublesome times. Confrontational times, filled with difficulties. Those who will throw themselves in with passion, commitment, love and humility – will win.

 “Our hope is not yet lost”, and we will be “free people in our own land”. I hope that day is not too far away.


Rabbi Dalia Marx (PhD)

Rabbi (PhD) Dalia Marx, Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Professor of liturgy and Midrash at the Hebrew Union College-JIR in Jerusalem. Dalia is the chief editor of Tefilat Ha’adam: the new Israeli Reform prayer book (2020) and of Bazman: Journeys in the Jewish-Israeli calendar (2018)

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