HaTikvah – The Hope – is the national anthem of Israel. I’ve been singing the song for decades. On my trip last month the song took on new meaning to me. On Sunday, June 17th I visited Meged School, the school in Ranana that we paired with for our Mishpacha L’Mishpacha program. The students that I came to know throughout the year were so excited to meet me and many asked me to send regards to their new friends at Etz Chaim. The students put on a talent show, all in English, for me. It was adorable and I grinned from ear to ear throughout the whole show. Two of the students made a presentation to me, followed by me thanking them for being a part of our special program. At the conclusion of the program we all stood to sing HaTikvah. This was the first time that I ever sang the anthem as the only American in the room. The students and teachers sang with vigor. They sounded proud to be singing it. These students are the hope for the future of Israel. Afterwards one of the students said she was surprised that I knew the song. I explained to her that many Americans know it and enjoy singing it in support of Israel. I tried to tell her that we feel such a special connection to Israel but that just did not make much sense to her.
Three days later I had the privilege of attending the graduation ceremony for soldiers who were completing officer school. I was one of thousands of people in attendance to watch the 400 soldiers become officers. This is a very special ceremony in which people come from all over the country to see their son, daughter, nephew, niece, grandson, granddaughter or friend become an officer. Zack, one of our former students, was one of those soldiers. After all of the splendor of the ceremony, it concluded with the singing of HaTikvah. I had goose bumps. Here I was in the middle of the Negev standing in the hot sun with thousands of Israelis all singing their hearts out. The song is about hope. These 400 officers are the hope for the Israeli army. They will be the leaders to help Israel through whatever lies ahead for them.
From now on when I sing HaTikvah, my thoughts will be with these two special memories.