Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 23 - Dr. Gaby Barzilay

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,

A song of ascents. When God restored the fortunes of Zion we were like dreamers”

 (Psalm 126. 1)

My mother’s 11th birthday was celebrated on the deck of a ship, sailing from Hamburg, Germany to Chile, in December 1939. Ten years later, she crossed the ocean again, together with her parents, on their way to Israel.

My father was fifteen, when he left his home in Buenos Aires and joined an agricultural training farm in Chile. A year later, he came to Israel with his Jewish friends from South America and joined a religious Kibbutz in the Negev desert, right in front of the Gaza strip.

For both my parents, returning to Zion was a dream they were able to fulfill, with hard work. 

Me and others from my generation were born here when it was already set. For my parents and their generation, gratitude was a natural feeling, we on the other hand, should be aware of it and practice it as an important value. Those who are born to a world of freedom and abundance, can forget the importance of being grateful and take everything for granted. But in fact, nothing should be taken for granted. 

Fulfilling a dream can sometimes be dangerous, when utopic expectations clash with imperfect reality, and even more so, clash with utopic dreams of others. 

What is a dream for you, is a threat for me. What is peace for me, is war for you”. 

(Ehud Banai)

 The bigger are the dreams and the expectations, so is the size of the fraction and the disappointment. If we do not practice being grateful and appreciative of what we have, all the time, we can deteriorate into despair and break all the good, as written in the Talmud: “The one who has a miracle doesn’t recognise it”.

If we agree to accept the times, when our counter parties fulfill their dreams on the account of our own dreams and if we understand that reality balances different expectations, since after every step in one direction there should be another step in the opposite direction, then, we will be able to fulfill all of our dreams without hurting the others. In order for this to happen, we need to recognize the miracle we live in, to be grateful to our parents and grandparents for creating it, to see all that is good around us and to say thank God for being so kind to us. 

Then our mouths will be filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy”.


Dr. Gaby Barzilay

Dr. Gaby Barzilay married to Esther’ke, father of five and grandfather of 6 (so far). Gabi is a fellow at the Israeli Beit Midrash (seminary) of the Hartman Institute and Hamidrasha in Oranim, teaches Tanach (Hebrew Bible) and Judaism at the Washington Hill college and other places. He is a Social activist, engaged in education equality, dialogue between sectors, between genders, and promoting well-being for all.

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