Sermon in honor of the establishment of the State of Israel

A message from the day Israel was established as a state in 1948.

The She’arith Israel synagogue in Atlanta, Georgia (photo credit: Courtesy)
The She’arith Israel synagogue in Atlanta, Georgia
(photo credit: Courtesy)
THE FOLLOWING sermon was given by Rabbi Tuviah Geffen (1870-1970) on Shabbat, Parashat Kedoshim, after the Torah reading in the She’arith Israel synagogue in Atlanta, Georgia, on Iyar 6, 5708, May 15, 1948.
“On that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” Thus prophesied the holy prophet Amos thousands of years ago. And thus have his words been fulfilled, for in this year, on the sixth of Iyar, 5708, we read Amos’s prophetic words in the Haftara this week. Indeed, the prophet’s words are fitting for this day, the day on which it was decreed that the Jewish people has gained its independence.
This is the day when the renewed emergence of the Jewish people has been proclaimed after so much suffering and torment, after so many victims have fallen – the best children of the nation. Finally our prayers have been answered, and our deeds have been found acceptable.
We know that the birth pangs of the Messiah have not ceased.
Much water still must flow before we are privileged to see the kingdom of Israel rise upon its foundations. But, as in the past, now, too, we have seen the miracles and wonders along every single step of the way. Before our eyes the miracles of the Hasmoneans are repeated – the miracle of “many into the hand of the few, and the impure into the hand of the pure.” While we are full of joy, we also pray to the Guardian of Israel that He might preserve and protect the courageous Jewish youth standing in the Judean Hills and the Galilee, and battling against the enemy with devotion. Our words are penetrated with deep sorrow and dreadful pain for the millions of pure and holy people who died as martyrs. May God take vengeance before our eyes for His servants’ blood, which has been shed.
Indeed, ours is a miserable generation, which has seen the dreadful destruction. However, we also bear in our heart a deep feeling of consolation that this very generation has been privileged to see the revival of the nation and the establishment of the Jewish state.
At this festive hour, when the Jewish heart is overflowing with worry and joy, it is the duty of all Jews from all our strata and varieties to help bear the historical responsibility and to perform the greatest task in the history of the Jewish people. Let us not rest until the security of the Jewish state is assured, as it is attacked from within and without, as is the Yishuv in the Land of Israel. Indeed, we, here, must also mobilize all our forces and be prepared to offer our souls and our property for the mighty mission – the establishment of the Jewish state for the Jewish people.
For hundreds of generations the Jews have hoped and prayed for this sacred hour, but to our great sorrow they did not attain it.
Thanks to divine providence we have been privileged to see with our own eyes the beginning of the kingdom of Israel and the State of Israel. Let us give praise and thanks to the Creator of the world, who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this time! Let us also pray that we shall be strong enough to withstand all the trials we can expect in the path of the Jewish state. May the Jewish state in the Land of Israel live! May the sun shine again upon the kingdom of Israel! Long live our holy Jerusalem! May we all merit full redemption with the advent of our righteous redeemer.
And may the prophecy that we have read this morning be fulfilled immediately: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen.”
The above sermon was translated from the Hebrew translation of the Yiddish original by Dov Levin, and its publication was approved by Rabbi Tuvia Geffen’s son, Rabbi David Geffen.