When the Shofar echoes ... in ways we might not expect
To understand the real resonance of Rabbi Goren's blowing the shofar at the kotel on June 7, 1967, we need to know this history, too.
Israel from the Inside has a number of purposes: to break out of the echo chamber and to expose us all to voices and viewpoints we don’t often hear and might not agree with; to expand the conversation about Israel to culture, art, music and more—so that it’s not just about conflict and violence; and to put historical events in context, so that we can appreciate more fully the context in which they took place.
In our last posting, we linked to this video of footage from June 7, 1967, the day that Israeli forces took control of the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. Towards the end of that video, we see Rabbi Shlomo Goren, then the rabbi of the IDF, blowing the shofar.
Most people assume that the blowing of the shofar was a standard religious expression at a historic moment. It was. But it was also an act overflowing with historic overtones, unknown to most viewers. Here, with the permission of Toldot Yisrael (more on which below), is a video that explains the deep resonance of Rabbi Goren’s seemingly simple act.
Oh, one more thing (with apologies to Steve Jobs): in the episode about June 7, 1967, I referenced a famous speech by Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, and then at the end of the posting, referred to a song about the kotel that contains the words “there are people with hearts of stone, and stones with human hearts.”
A teacher of mine from rabbinical school (that’s a long time ago!) wrote me to point out that it was actually Rabbi Kook who penned those words from the song. So both the speech and the song (parts of it) are his. Was thrilled to learn that, and am very grateful.
One of the truly extraordinary projects devoted to preserving the history of the years immediately prior to 1948 and the first years after is Toldot Yisrael. Toldot Yisrael is a Jerusalem based nonprofit dedicated to recording and sharing the firsthand testimonies of the men and women who helped found the State of Israel. Since 2007, Toldot Yisrael has been interviewing the members of Israel’s 1948 generation in order to capture and preserve the epic story of Israel's founding before it is too late. So far, its team has interviewed more than 1,200 of Israel's founders and recorded over 4,000 hours of powerful and unique footage. Toldot Yisrael’s aim is to conduct hundreds more – while it is still possible.
Visit the Toldot Yisrael website and watch some of the videos … the history of Israel’s formation will come alive as it never has before.
In our continuing series of podcasts, available to subscribers to Israel from the Inside, I spoke with Dena Halsband, a young married mother of two who lives in Lod (as does Tahel Harris, with whom we spoke earlier), and who reflects on her experiences during the days of violence in Lod and wonders aloud whether she and her family can responsibly continue to live there. Here’s an excerpt of the conversation with Dena; subscribers can access the full episode.
It’s worth thinking about this: in a number of cities in Israel, there are Jews wondering whether they can stay. To many, it feels like the fear that was Europe has come to Israel, the one place where we were supposed to live without that.
A brief excerpt of each of the podcasts in the series is available here.
A number of readers asked for a brief explanation of why the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out now; many wanted something concise that they could share with friends, children, grandchildren, etc. So we’ve put together two quick videos, the first video covering the long-term background causes, while the second video covers the more immediate “perfect” storm that led to the fighting. Feel free to share the links to both videos.
Other readers have asked for a list of books to read to get a more robust understanding of Israel’s history, culture and politics. We’ll soon be posting a list of “thirty-something books to read about Israel to know what you’re talking about.” They’re just suggestions … you don’t have to read all 30! Or any, for that matter.
Our twitter feed is here; feel free to join there, too.