Yom Ha’atzmaut 5780 (2020): The Freedom to Be Locked Down

It’s been a weird year, hasn’t it? I don’t think I need to go into detail as to why; if you’re not aware, you must’ve been such a shut-in before Coronavirus that the lockdowns mean nothing to you.

The irony isn’t lost on me that we here in Israel are all spending the 72nd Independence Day locked down in our homes ,by government order. It is really a strange situation, and I understand peoples frustration (the restrictions were tough on peopel earlier too, as it was just Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day), and most people couldn’t visit loved ones’ gravesites as they normally would.

Incidentally, this makes the third year in a row (of the 4 Yom Ha’atzmauts I’ve been here for since moving) for me that I’ve spent most or all of this holiday with limited freedom of movement (the past two years in the army and on base for part of all of it.)

I’ve seen lots of discussion online, and elsewhere, about worries people have about the actions many governments have been taking amid this global pandemic (and while I personally feel that the lockdowns, other measures were necessary, it is certainly understandable to worry about the growing power of governments–and that they might not want to relinquish this later, once the crisis is past.

However, I’ve always been an optimistic guy, and so I present this, from a Jewish perspective.

Things might not be great right now, but there are so many things to be tankful for. In the immediate sense, our government here has done a very good (if not perfect) job in handling the crisis. The death rate, and number of those in critical condition from Coronavirus remain low here, and things overall are stable. We’ve got eggs again too!

But most significant is what this day itself marks. Yes, stores are closed, we’re locked down, etc, etc, but it is by our government, in our land, for our safety. We control our fates, no one else. Yes, things are not perfect in many, many respects, but we are here.

The Jewish people even as recently as 73 years ago could not say the same, and for nearly 2,000 years, we prayed for this. We made it home, built it up into something amazing, and, G-d willing, we are on a forward path.

We will all celebrate as best we can from our homes this year, and G-d willing, next year, we will merit the ability to “properly” celebrate outdoors– in the FULLY rebuilt Jerusalem.

(Tangentially related, I hope to have some fun announcements soon regarding my new upcoming series, Light Unto Another World, with which I hope to usher in a new age of Jewish fiction. Until then, you can check out all my books published so far–several of which written & published during my IDF service–on Amazon.)

We’re here, and we are not going anywhere.

Chag Atzmaut Sameach!

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