Yom Ha’atzmaut – Remembrance and Renewal
Written By: Rachel Koller and Sarah Gordon,
Goal: The chanichim should leave the sicha understanding
(1) The power of Yom Ha’atzmaut – how all these different Jews came together to fight as an Am and why it was it was so important for the Jews in 1948 to have an independent Jewish State.
(2) The battle for Yom Ha’atzmaut applies to us today and we can only truly appreciate geulah by looking at Yom Ha’atzmaut as part of a cycle of Yom Hashoah and Yom HaZicaron.
Suggested Age: Chevraya Aleph
Suitable for Shabbat
Materials: Israeli flag, 6 cards with characters, 2 lists of 6 people each (below)
Game #1: Steal the cheese (because bacon is treif)
Split the kids into 2 teams, team British, and team Palmach. Then the two teams line up on opposite ends of the room, and each player from both teams has a number. (See diagram) An Israeli flag is placed in the middle. When the leader calls out a number, that player (from each team) must run and try to "steal" the flag and return with it to his team without being tagged. If he is not tagged, he scores two points. If he is tagged, the tagger scores one point. The team with the most points wins.
Variation: The leader may call two or three numbers or even call "scramble" in which case everyone tries to steal the “cheese”.
Game #2: Streets and Alleys.
Two players are chosen, one to be the “Palmach” and the second to be the “British.” The other players stand in equidistant rows (at arms length). When they face front with their arms extended out, they are in the "streets" position. When they turn to their right and extend their arms they are in the "alleys" position. Enough space is left so that the Palmach guy and the British soldier can run through the streets and alleys. Players start in the “streets” position. The British soldier must try to tag the Palmach guy. The British soldier begins by chasing the Palmach guy through the streets, until the leader shouts: "Alleys!" Then the players face front and form “alleys” which change the course for the Palmach guy and the British soldier who are now running through the alleys. Neither the Palmach guy nor the British soldier may go through, or reach over lines to get from one alley or street to another. They must go around the end players to change "streets" or "alleys." If the British soldier tags the Palmach guy before X number of seconds are up, he wins; if not he loses. Two other players are then chosen and play continues.
Variation: Split all of the players into two teams. Each team selects one player to represent that team as either a Palmach guy or a British soldier. The team scores one point if their player wins. The first team to get X points wins.
Game #3: Human Bingo
Pick 12 kids, and have each of them take a card that has one of 6 characters on it. Then the rest of the kids are divided up into 2 teams and become Palmach generals. The point is that the Palmach generals have to go around and recruit an army to fight the British. Each of the 2 teams has a list of the 6 people they need to find. The rest of the chanichim who are playing parts scatter, and the generals have to run around interviewing and asking questions of the chanichim to find their 6 people and bring them back to their base. Whichever team puts together an army unit 1st wins.
Each army must have:
Dvir the Israeli Kibbutznik: he was born in
Israel, grandparents born in
Israel. He wants to fight to defend his kibbutz and homeland. Very active in the Hagana, believes in fighting in self-defense.
Yechiel the Holocaust survivor: from Poland, who survived Treblinka, came to Israel on an illegal boat, wants to survive – he just got freedom and now the Arabs are trying to take it away.
Yonatan the Religious Zionist student: he learns in Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, wants to fight for a religious state, to bring the geulah.
Mark the American Soldier: Non-religious Jew, fought in WW2 for the American Army, saw the concentration camps and now wants to fight for a cause he believes in – having a Jewish Homeland.
Leibel the Chareidi Jew: A Meah Sha’arim Yerushalmi Jew. Don’t believe in Zionism, but your house is under attack and under your rabbi’s orders, you’ve gone to help build trenches and do shmirah for your neighborhood under the local Palmach leader.
Merav the Resistance Fighter: Grew up on one of the 1st kibbutzim in
Israel. Her brother was killed in riots by the Arabs, and she turned to the Irgun because she believes that only by showing our power as a nation will we ever be able to be free. Many of her friends have been captured and tortured by the British, and she wants revenge.
Sicha: Have the kids sit down in their 2 groups (or more if there are more chanichim) and look at the 6 different characters. Ask the chanichim, which one of these people do you think helped the most in our achieving independence in 1948? To which do you think having independence and achieving a Jewish State made the biggest difference. Why? (For example – the Holocaust survivor because now he’s really free). Which would you se yourself as, if you were there fighting in 1948? Why is it important to have independence and to have our own Jewish State???
Finally, what brought all these different people together to fight for the same country? What ideals did they all have in common?
Explain to the chanichim that there was no Tzahal then, just this mix of lots of different Jews, coming together as a nation, all fighting for independence.
Ask the chanichim if they think achieving independence and a Jewish state was hard or easy? Tie this into the games we played. Who were the Jews fighting in 1948 to get independence b4 they fought the Arabs? Was it a regular battle or not? Explain to the chanichim that the Jews were fighting within the cities as resistance fighters against the British. It was very similar to the Streets and Alleys game, where you, the Jewish resistance fighter was begin chased by the British soldier. Also, the Jews were in competition with the Arabs to see who would get
Israel as a state. It was whoever had the most ideals and wanted it the most that would win the battle. This ties into to snatch the cheese. The Jews had to be pushing themselves and really want Medinat Israel, and these ideals which we saw in the different types of people that joined to fight (Holocaust survivor, American veteran, Israeli Kibutznik) was what powered the Jews to win.
Finally, point out to the chanichim how the games we played were like the battles that really went on in 1948, and lots of these Jews that we talked about ended up giving their lives so that today we can have a state. Ask the chanichim if any of them have ever been in
Israel for Yom Ha'atzmaut, Yom Hazicaron or Yom Hashoah? Ask them if it feels different having these days in
America versus in
Israel. Why? In
Israel, Yom Ha’atzmaut does not come in a vacuum, but as part of a cycle. Only after experiencing Yom Hashoah (from which many people came out of the camps to fight for
Israel like Yechiel in our peulah), and then Yom Hazicaron (where young soldiers like Mark, Merav, Dvir… died defending our country) can we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. Only within the context of understanding that these Jews gave their lives for us to be free, can we truly feel Geulah.
Conclusion: When we think about all the different Jews that came together to fight for Medinat Israel and why they came and fought we can understand that though it was hard, it was so important for the Jews to be free and have their own Medinah.