My friend at the Israeli Embassy called me to ask my help. "Bubeleh," he said, "you know that when you and I were growing up in Chicago and New York, whenever there was anything for Israel or Soviet Jewry the synagogues put together busses and caravans, and everybody came. Well, the word is that Washington Jews don't turn out like that. And we really need a good turnout for the event on the Mall on June first. Can you help?"
I remember twenty years ago leading a crowd of synagogue members to the Mall for the last big Soviet Jewry rally; the floodgates opened shortly thereafter and "Soviet" became an historical term not too many years later. I was proud to see the delegations from Sisterhood that responded to the call for rallies urging responsible gun laws and available reproductive health care. And we went in large numbers to stand with Israel in April of 2002. I'd like to add another gleam to our roster of achievements by celebrating with the community Israel's sixtieth year.
Of course, there is no such thing as an apolitical event for Israel. From the right to the left of every group — Jews, Christians, Muslims, and a dozen nationalities — there will be signs and sounds and maybe even counter-events. Follow your conscience if you feel that it is important to make a second point about Israel, by all means.
But please join me in making the first point: it is nothing short of a miracle that Israel exists, and we are nothing short of blessed to be witnesses to a miracle. A sixtieth birthday is cause to celebrate and your presence on the National Mall on June 1 will say to a world that is sometimes admiring and sometimes hostile, "We care enough to take this time to acknowledge the privilege of seeing the Jewish state renewed."
There is much more information that will reach you, but it is not too early to mark your calendars and reserve the date. After all, we left Egypt all those centuries ago with the hopes of arriving in the Promised Land. In every generation each individual must sense that he or she personally went out of Egypt. When you recounted the story at your seder table this year, you were in the company of people who mostly take that destination for granted — and not too many generations have that privilege.