Please enjoy some readings for Israel Independence Day:

The State of Israel has a special hold on our soul. Israel is the very essence of our being. The Torah that spells out for us a way of life and a religious destiny also binds us to a land, and Jewish life cannot be sustained without Israel at its core-. Israel’s pain is our pain; her safety, our gladness-.
— Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism

An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion
Yehuda Amichai, translation by Chana Bloch

An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion
and on the opposite mountain I am searching
for my little boy.
An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father
both in their temporary failure.
Our voices meet
above the Sultan’s Pool in the valley between us.
Neither of us wants
the child or the goat to get caught in the wheels
of the terrible Had Gadya machine.

Afterward we found them among the bushes
and our voices came back inside us, laughing and crying.

Searching for a goat or a son
has always been the beginning
of a new religion in these mountains.

by Amy Izen

O Ishmael . . . Listen. It is Isaac speaking.
Too long have we crossed swords over Sinai,
Too long has there been desert between us, Where nothing grows.
Only Death. Let there be peace.

One night, At the foot of Sabbath, I waited for you.

You said you would come to Jerusalem, And meet me face to face.
I watched you, Ishmael, As you rode above the desert sand,
On a strange, colossal camel, With smoking hooves,
Across a cloudless sky. You alighted. And I ran to meet you,
And held out both my hands.
I have waited for this moment Countless generations.
We wept and embraced.

O Ishmael, How long shall we wage war with one another?
How long must there be rancor and mistrust?
How much more blood must still be spilled. Before the final epic?
How many shall we shovel in the sand?

O Ishmael, Let us be reconciled at last,In the field of the dead,
By the gravestones of our beloved sons, As we were once long ago
By the field of Ephron, In the cave of Machpelah,
When we buried Our father, Abraham.

O Ishmael, My Brother

Yehuda Amichai, translated by Chana Bloch

On a roof in the Old City
laundry hanging in the late afternoon sunlight:
the white sheet of a woman who is my enemy,
the towel of a man who is my enemy,
to wipe off the sweat of his brow.

In the sky of the Old City
A kite.
At the other end of the string,
A child
I cannot see
Because of the wall.

We have put up many flags,
They have put up many flags.
To make us think that they’re happy.
To make them think that we’re happy.

We ask Your blessing, O God, for the State of Israel…

We ask Your blessing, O God, for the State of Israel,
For the Land of Israel, and for the people of Israel.
Bless those who defend the Land and protect its people.
Bless its leaders with wisdom, courage, and dedication.

May they be resolute in the face of challenge,
And unwavering in the pursuit of peace.

May Israel be a beacon of hope for the oppressed,
A source of inspiration to all who are free.

Fulfill in our day the ancient promise,
“Zion shall be redeemed through justice,
And its inhabitants through righteousness.” Amen.
(Siddur Chadash, The Prayer Book Press, Media Judaica, New York and Bridgeport, CT)

May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease…

May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease,
When a great peace will embrace the whole world.
Then nation will not threaten nation,
And [humanity] will not again know war.

For all who live on earth shall realize
We have not come into being to hate or to destroy.

We have come into being
To praise, to labor, and to love.

Compassionate God, bless the leaders of all nations
With the power of compassion.

Fulfill the promise conveyed in Scripture:

I will bring peace to the Land,
And you shall lie down, and no one shall terrify you.

I will rid the Land of vicious beasts
And it shall not be ravaged by war.

Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream.

Let peace fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.

And let us say: Amen.

We pray for Israel

We pray for Israel,
Both the mystic ideal of our [ancestors’] dreams,
And the living miracle, here and now,
Built of heart, muscle, and steel.

May she endure and guard her soul,
Surviving the relentless, age-old hatreds,
The cynical concealment of diplomatic deceit,
And the rumblings that warn of war.

May Israel continue to be the temple that magnetizes
The loving eyes of Jews in all corners:

The Jew in a land of affluence and relative peace,
Who forgets the glory and pain of his being,
And the Jew in a land of oppression whose blooded fist
Beats in anguish and pride
Against the cage of his enslavement.

May Israel yet embrace her homeless, her own,
And bind the ingathered into one people.

May those who yearn for a society built on human concern
Find the vision of the prophets realized in her.
May her readiness to defend
Never diminish her search for peace.

May we always dare to hope
That in our day the antagonisms will end,
That all the displaced, Arab and Jew, will be rooted again,
That within Israel and across her borders
All God’s children will touch hands in peace.
(Nahum Waldman, Likrat Shabbat: Worship, Study, and Song, The Prayer Book Press of Media Judaica, 1981)