Rabbi Yaron Kapitulnik

I Am A Zionist

Shabbat Sermon: “I am a Zionist”

 April 24, 2015

  Inspired and party borrowed (*) from Yair Lapid- article in “Yediot Acharonot” on Jan 30, 2009.

 

I am a Zionist.

 

Because it was not just Abraham that was promised the land of Israel, it is each and every one of us that carries that promise for 4000 years. This land was promised to you, and to me. Our story begun with a journey, Abraham went to Canaan, and left Canaan, his decedents returned to the land, and left again. His people were enslaved for 400 years before they left Egypt and wondered in the desert for another 40 years before returning home, only to be exiled again and to wait 2000 more years for the promise to be fulfilled.

 

I am a Zionist.

 

Because on that land, Abraham and Sarah were followed by Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah and Rachel. It is were the 12 sons of Jacob were born, and were they died. That is where they first encountered God, it is the land on which they loved and suffered. Where they were afraid and where they displayed courage, where they gave up and where they fought for themselves, where they hurt and where they learned to forgive and in doing so- they were human, just like you and I. In their unique stories they inspired and shaped a people like none other. I marvel each and every time I can open the Tanach and read their stories.

 

I am a Zionist

 

Because the Bible does not only contain my history but also my geography. I dipped my feet in the same Jordan River that Joshua crossed, I stood in Jerusalem on the steps leading to temple mount where thousand of pilgrims walked before me carrying their offerings. I had a picnic in the Ella Valley, and I threw rocks into a pond, one of those rocks could have been the rock David used to kill Goliath. I stood on Mount of Olives, hiked up to Mount Carmel and climbed Mount Sinai. In every step I took up one of those mountains I connected my past and present and future.

 

 I am a Zionist

 

Because my ancestors that were exiled to Babylonia, never forgot where they came from. They could have enjoyed the richness of the Euphrates River; its fat fish and sweet dates, but they chose to weep and think of the day they would return home. “On the rivers of Babylon, were we sat down, ohhhh we wept, as we remembered Zion.”

 

I am a Zionist

 

Because so many coveted this land, they all came, conquered and finally remained nothing but a foot note in history books; the Greek and the Romans, the armies of Omar and the Crusaders, the Ottomans and the British. The only people that held to the land with nothing but faith were the Zinati family from Peki’in and every Jew that carried Zion in her heart.

For 2000 years my people kept facing Zion as they prayed – so do I.  For 2000 years at the end of the Seder they promised and held to the hope– “next year in Jerusalem” –so do I. For 2000 years they broke a glass when they were married, and made a promise to never forget Jerusalem, Zion –so did I.

 

 I am a Zionist

 

I believe that the Jewish people established itself in the Land of Israel, although somewhat late. Had it listened to the alarm clock, there would have been no Holocaust, and my dead grandfather – the one Yonatan was named after – would not have been the only one of 8 brothers and sisters to survive and see his grandchildren.

 

I Am a Zionist*

 

I am a man of tomorrow but I also live my past. My dynasty includes Moses, Jesus, Maimonides, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, Woody Allen, Bobby Fischer, Bob Dylan, Franz Kafka, Herzl, and Ben-Gurion. I am part of a tiny persecuted minority that influenced the world more than any other nation. While others invested their energies in war, we had the sense to invest in our minds.

 

I am a Zionist.*

 

I believe in our right for this land. The people who were persecuted for no reason throughout history have a right to a state of their own plus a free F-16 from the manufacturer. Every display of anti-Semitism from London to Mumbai hurts me, yet deep inside I'm thinking that Jews who choose to live abroad fail to understand something very basic about this world. The State of Israel was not established so that the anti-Semites will disappear, but rather, so we can tell them to get lost.

 

I am a Zionist.

 

Because in 1969 my sister sat in a bomb shelter even before she knew how to say I’m afraid, clinging to a mother who arrived here from Argentina, looking for a better future for her family.  19 years later, my father cried the first time he saw me wearing my IDF uniform, and my mother didn’t sleep for 3 years. I was fired at in Lebanon, I chased terrorist in Beit lechem and Gaza, my brother drove behind Bus Number 5 in Tel-Aviv, and just because he stopped at a red light, he is alive and able to describe how he saw the bus going up in flames 100 yards in front of him. Missiles landed near my home during the first Gulf War, My wife is named after her Aunt, who never returned home alive from her military service. Yet nonetheless, I always feel safer in Israel then I feel anywhere else. Especially in the subway in New York.

 

I am a Zionist.

 

Because I believe strongly in the words of Yair lapid who wrote that the State of Israel is not only a place, it is also an idea, and I wholeheartedly believe in the three extra commandments he adds to the famous ten. They are engraved on the wall of the Holocaust museum in Washington: "Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but above all, thou shalt not be a bystander."

 

I am a Zionist.

 

I saw penguins close to Antarctica; I meditated with Yogis in Rishakesh, India. I threw my shekels in to the Trevi fountain in Rome and stood amazed in front of the Grand Canyon.  Yet I still believe that there is no city as fun as Tel-Aviv, or intriguing as Jerusalem. No better experience then floating in the Dead Sea, no stronger spiritual experience then a sunrise from the top of Masada. No better Humus then the one you’ll get at Rachmo in the Machne Yehuda market. It is true that I'm not objective- sue me.

 

 I am a Zionist. (*)

 

I sometimes look around me and become filled with pride, that in that little land I call homeland, 7 million Jews live better than the entire Muslim world, with the exception of the Sultan of Brunei. I fill up with pride knowing that this is a little country under siege yet nonetheless the traffic lights always work and there is high-speed connection to the Internet every where. I fill up with pride knowing that this little country that has no natural resources, brought to the world the dripping irrigation system, the chip processor in every Intel computer and Voicemail.

 

 I am a Zionist. (*)

 

My Zionism is natural, just like it is natural for me to be a father, a husband, and a son. People who claim that they, and only they, represent the "real Zionism" are ridiculous in my view so are those who shy away from engaging with the state of Israel. My Zionism is not measured by the size of my kippa, by the temple I belong too, or by the party I will be voting for. It was born a long time before me, on the railroad leading to Auschwitz where a Jew like you and I attempted in vain, to understand why the entire world is trying to kill him.

 

I am a Zionist.

 

Every time I get to JFK and the cute but tuff Israeli security woman, maybe 21 years old asks me if I packed alone – my eyes fill up with tears, and they do so again when the door of the plain opens in Ben Gurion airport and a mix of Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Amharic, English and French all mix up as if it was once again the Tower of Babel.

And the tears become a smile when I see Israeli drivers treating traffic signs as if they are merely a recommendation, when they speak simultaneously on two cell phones, go out of their way to convince you that thy know what the best falafel in Israel is, and that they have no idea what the word obnoxious means – because they don’t have a parallel word in Hebrew.

 

I am a Zionist (*)

 

Every time an innocent victim dies, I bow my head because once upon a time I was an innocent victim. I have no desire or intention to adopt the moral standards of my enemies. I do not want to be like them. I do not live on my sword; I merely keep it under my pillow.

 

I am a Zionist. (*)

 

I do not only hold on to the rights of our forefathers, but also to the duty of the sons. The people who established the state of Israel lived and worked under much worse conditions than I have to face, yet nonetheless they did not make do with mere survival. They also attempted to establish a better, wiser, more humane, and more moral state. They were willing to die for this cause, and I try to live for its sake.

  

I am a Zionist

Because we are a people endowed with a sense of hope. Despite rising anti Semitism, the BDS Campaigns, and ever growing outside threats like ISIS and Iran - we will always teach our children that there is hope, that one day, the olive branch we hold out with an extended arm will we be accepted and the words of the prophet Isaiah will be proclaimed around the land: “A wolf will reside with a lamb, and a leopard will lie down with a young goat; an ox and a young lion will graze together.” We are a people who carried with them the Tikvah, the hope, for thousands of years, and as long as we still stand we will sing out loud. Hatikvah. Please rise for the singing of our Anthem.

 

 







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