I’m late to the nail art party but making up for lost time. Till now, it never captured my imagination. Dotty flowers and flourishes aren’t my style. But recently, I’ve come across manicure masterpieces! These 10 baby canvases can provide a portable place of expression.
So given my upcoming trip to Israel, I wanted to indulge my latest curiosity. I’m not the first to try this theme. For my take, I tried not to be too literal.
I went with blue nails, featured some silver sparkles, and for the accent nail, dark blue stripes over white, as a nautical nod to the Mediterranean. The Magen David gives a flag effect and the heart on the other hand says, “I ♥ Israel.” Israel nail art: a stylish way to wear Zion Pride.
First Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Next Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day.
Then Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
The order and proximity of these events to one another isn’t just stam, per chance or random. One informs the next, showing us the dark so that we can see light.
Yom HaShoah, celebrated today, memorializes the Holocaust, one of the most horrific expressions of human cruelty in the history of mankind where 6 million Jews were systematically murdered, eradicating 2/3 of European Jewry.
Anti-Semitism, the irrational hatred of Jews, persists as a bloody stain on the consciousness of humanity. While the Holocaust is the most dramatic example of this hostility in modern history—pogroms, crusades, inquisitions, massacres, and expulsions targeting Jews existed for centuries before World War II. Even now, Iran denies the Holocaust while simultaneously plotting a second one. Anti-Semitism runs rampant, unhidden and unashamed, throughout the Arab world. And European anti-Semitism plays possum, pretending to be dead only to jump up quite alive and bite, as we’ve seen in Hungary, France and the Ukraine in recent months.
Jews’ historical, moral and religious claim to the land of Israel cannot be disputed (unless one wants to contest archeological science and rewrite history, and some try). But, the atrocities of the Holocaust helped the rest of the world to “get up to speed,” and concede that the time had come for international, legal recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland. Millenia of displacement were quite enough. Jews needed to a safe place to call home and defend themselves, because the rest of the world could not be depended upon to behave morally and save them. After all, the perpetrators of the worst attacks on Jews in history were committed by the most “enlightened” and powerful societies of their day—the Hellenists, the Romans, the Germans, etc.
Yom HaShoah, we remember the horrors of the Holocaust, the danger of the diaspora, our homeless past.
But we are a different generation. Next Year in Jerusalem is us. We have a home. But it came with—and continues to come with—a price.
Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day comes a week after Yom HaShoah. To Americans who live far away from the realities of war, Memorial Day means BBQs and pool parties. But Israel’s compulsory military service means every Israeli knows a fallen soldier or victim of terror. The kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit rocked the country because he could have been anyone’s brother or son.
Freedom is not free, and Israelis understand this paradox intimately. Then, before we step on the glass and celebrate the marriage of the Jews to their beshert, Israel, we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to create that precious reality.
On both Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron sirens blare across Israel. Everyone stops their car, stands at attention, and gives a moment of silence to honor and remember.
But then we celebrate. The day after Yom HaZikaron is Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day. Solemnity shifts to joy, as the entire country takes to the streets to sing and dance.
Jewish couples marry under a wedding canopy or chuppah. A tallit, or prayer shawl, supported by poles creates this holy space. The traditional blue-and-white tallit inspired the design of the Israeli flag. How fitting then that across Israel, this flag flies, supported by poles over the heads of Jews and their beloved land.
Today we see how far we’ve come.
Yom HaShoah: We remember the 6 million victims and rebuke complacency, eyes open, lessons learned.
Yom HaZikaron: We remember those who paid the ultimate price to establish and protect our home, and ensure we are victims never again.
Yom HaAtzmaut: We celebrate the reunion of the Jewish people with their true love, Israel—the ultimate love story of a people who never gave up on their home, and the home that blossomed at its beloved’s return.
The reuniting of soulmates can take years, decades, lifetimes, or hundreds of lifetimes. We are the generation living the dream, and we are the generation charged with protecting it.
I’d venture to say that everyone from Martha Stewart to Target to Glamour Magazine all jumped on the annual Spring Cleaning craze thanks to us Jews. For millennia, we’ve been scrub-a-dub-dubbing around this time of year in preparation for Pesach (Passover) to completely rid our homes of every last spec of chametz (Passover unfriendly foods like bread, rice, most carbs essentially).
Still, getting the credit doesn’t convert the chore to a cinch…but, perspective does.
Zoom out: Passover gives us the opportunity to break free from our own personal Mitzrayim, the Hebrew word for Egypt. This insight hides within the word itself: Mitzrayim מצרים comes from the word m‘tzarim meaning, “narrow straits.” (mi = from,” tzar= narrow/tight).
When we left Egypt, we didn’t just leave a country—we left our limitations. Every generation is commanded to recount the story and feel they too left Mitzrayim, and this is possible because we each have a Mitzrayim to escape.
Zoom in: Whether a slave to doubt, fears, insecurity, the scale, your account balance, habits, addictions or other people’s opinions, that reality is not a sentence. The opportunity to break free exists during Pesach. That’s why we clean.
The external cleaning process facilitates an internal one. The cleaning serves as a meditation during which we take a personal inventory, identifying crumbs of old behaviors we feel reluctant to or powerless to change. (You won’t find this soul-ular exfoliating scrub at Sephora—lather up!)
Without this important cleaning process, the Passover seder could easily devolve into mere ritual! But with a personal purpose identified, the spiritual technology of the seder סדר, which literally translates to “order” can do just that: transform inner-and-outer limitation to order and light.
This awesome opportunity to exit Egypt ourselves is what we’re preparing for as we clean. By doing this work, we set ourselves up to leave our own Mitzrayim, split our own red sea, and boldly walk through it to freedom.
The month of Adar (Pisces) = The Month of Happiness.
Together, it was a clear signal that now is the time to launch my first blog, centered around fabulous, Jewish living…according to me. Welcome to Joyish!
The perfect introductory post occurred to me the other day while listening to a class by one of my favorite teachers David Sacks. During his Purim lecture from last year, he shared the anecdote illustrated in my painting below. His story was perfect. Why? Because it very simply explains Judaism. From the questioning, to the humor, to the (all fishiness aside) depth.
We swim around like these little Pisces fish, la la la, wondering if Hashem exists. We wonder whether or not He’s paying attention and if He’s getting it right, all the while oblivious to the reality that we’re actually completely engulfed, swimming in a sea of Hashem. David shared this anecdote near Purim because the Jews really felt abandoned by Hashem and threatened by the Persian kings at the time. But, Hashem was there, both completely revealed and concealed at once.
That obvious-yet-obscure paradox remains. Not so much has changed, down to the threatening Persian kings! We still doubt and forget and need to be reminded that it’s all working fine. I do. But that’s what makes this a good story and a great opening context for Joyish. Holding onto this Purim perspective helps me swim more easily. I hope you’ll join me. The water’s just fine.