Arutz Sheva visited the Chen Ha’Tzafon synagogue in Petach Tikvah on
Wednesday, where Jewish music singers Yitzchak Meir and Shlomo
Abramson led the congregations in special prayers for Yom Ha’atzmaut,
Israel’s Independence Day.
The service, written by Israel´s Chief Rabbinate at the formation of
the state of Israel, is recited in religious Zionist synagogues all
over Israel. It is a spiritual way to make the difficult transition
from Memorial Day to Independence Day more meaningful.
The morning service will include the Hallel (Praise to G-d) prayer
recited on holidays, but the traditional Ma´ariv (evening) Service
marks the transition. It begins with the congregation chanting
several chapters of thanksgiving from the Book of Psalms and singing
verses from the Lecha Dodi ("Come my beloved") prayer. Ma´ariv, a
short service, is next, but it concludes with a stirring addition to
the service, added for Independence Day:
The ark is opened to show the Torah scrolls, the cantor
proclaims "Hear O Israel, the Lord Our G-d, the Lord is One" and the
congregation repeats it after him. He then says the words of Elijah
the Prophet on Mount Carmel, said also at the end of Yom Kippur: "G-d
is our Lord" - three times - and the congregation repeats this after
him, breaking into song with the words of King David "When G-d
returns the exile of Zion, we will be as in a dream" sung to the tune
of Israel´s national anthem "Hatikvah".
The uplifting impact of the service is the transition from mourning
for those who fell to thanking G-d for the everpresent miracle of the
Jewish state, and on to the joy at being part of this miracle. And
so, the congregtation goes on to sing "Next year in Jerusalem" and
most begin a joyous dance around the synagogue to these words, hearts
filled with gratefulness to G-d for coming home after 2000 years of
“In general, coming in to this day you’re really on an emotional
roller coaster,” Abramson told Arutz Sheva. “That’s part of the whole
transition going on in the streets. You see it going on and it’s
unbelievable. Everyone’s so emotionally charged."
He added, “You see everyone at the cemeteries, visiting all the
people that made this country, the people that made it possible for
us to live here, and then you come into this unbelievable prayer, and
everyone’s dancing. That’s really part of the Jewish people, going
from the lowest to the highest.”
Israelis celebrate Independence Day with parties, barbecues,
fireworks and live performances. Not all, of course, begin the
festivities with prayer in the synagogue.
However, Abramson said he believes the prayer is indeed the most
important part of the celebration.