Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tomorrow is Yom Ha'atzmaut, and my kids are indifferent to it. The know its coming, but they don't care. That doesn't really bother me. After all, I grew up indifferent to it as well.

What's different, though, is that my indifference developed despite a childhood that consisted of an annual bombardment of Yom Ha'atzmaut events. Every year my school and shul created elaborate programs. We had parades and blue and white cookies and halel at shachris and all the rest. Through it all, I was always the one asking "What does all this have to do with me."

In the hagddah that question belongs to the wicked son. But I didn't feel wicked. And I still don't think my question is a wicked question. I'm an American citizen, not an Israeli, and Yom Ha'atzmaut is an Israeli holiday. From the very beginning I understood that it isn't wicked to recognize distinctions or to insist on your own identity.

What I didn't understand from the very beginning is that its also okay for others to do the same. Reaching that conclusion, I confess, took time. For years it bothered me that other American Jews made such a big deal out of the Israeli day of  independence. Their celebrations seemed pointless, unnecessary. I may have been a teenager before I outgrew that mistake, before I was ready to grant people the right to their own mishigas and to regard it with polite indifference. 

I still think the emotional hoopla is silly-- especially when it comes from Jews who aren't raining Jewish children and likely won't have Jewish grandchildren - but we human  beings do lots of silly thing. When my team scores an important goal, my reaction, I'm sure, is no less absurd than what you see at some of the more fervent Yom Ha'atzmaut parties. Being indifferent to Yom Ha'atzmaut is my mishigas. Its as worthy of polite indifference as yours is.

So what about my kids? My problem isn't with their indifference but with their ignorance. I may have rejected religious Zionism, but at least I experienced it. I understand why some recognize Yom Ha'atzmaut as a religious holiday, even if I don't agree. And  though I don't much care if my kids eat blue and white cookies tomorrow or not, I want them to know that other people are doing that. I want them to understand (and respect) that the day and its trappings are significant to other people, though they carry no emotional or religious significance for us.

 Search for more information about Yom Ha'atzmautat

No comments: