Shabbat Tkumah – From Mourning to Revival
Reform congregations in Israel invite Reform, Liberal and Progressive congregations around the world to celebrate Israel’s independence on the Shabbat that falls in between the "Three Yoms" Yom ha'Shoa - Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom ha’Zikaron – Memorial Day for fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terror and Yom ha’Atzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day. This Shabbat, falling this year on May 4 2019, is referred to at our Israeli congregations as Shabbat “Tkumah”.
The end of the month of Nissan and the beginning of Iyar in Israel are a complex period of time which connects within one week between the three main Zionist commemorative days – Yom ha’Shoah, Yom ha’Zikaron and Yom ha’Atzmaut. Alongside the change in weather in the period between winter and summer, every Israeli and Zionist experiences this transition period between sadness and grief over the memory of those who have perished in the Holocaust and Israeli wars, and the joy of independence and redemption. This process, which is experienced by many as a sort of collective rollercoaster, invites us to have a philosophical and theological discussion about these three days. In the process of forming the Jewish and Israeli calendar in the modern age in a way that will be relevant and meaningful to our lives, the Israel Reform Movement seeks to connect between these three days and point theirs relevance to one another.
In the time period between these three days is the Shabbat that is called at Reform congregations Shabbat “Tkumah” – Shabbat of Revival, as mentioned above. The word “Tkumah” in Hebrew originates from the word “la’kum”, to rise, or to stand up, and the process of revival which we commemorate expresses the revival from the disaster and ashes of the Holocaust, through the heroism and grief of Israeli wars, all the way to the joy over the miracle of Jewish independence.
The initiative to set a special Shabbat before Yom ha’Atzmaut, on the same token as Shabbat Shuva before Yom Kippur, Shabbat HaGadol before Passover and Shabbat Hazon before Tisha b’Av, began at Kehillat Har’el – the most veteran Israeli Reform congregation, about 60 years ago. Since then, this tradition has spread to all Reform congregations across the country, who commemorate this Shabbat in a variety of ways – beginning with the blowing of the shofar, reading the Israeli Declaration of Independence in trope and lighting the seven candlestick menorah to signify Israel’s independence.
As we near Israel’s 70th Yom ha’Atzmaut, we hope that our partner congregations around the world will join us in instilling meaning and content into the special Shabbat which occurs in the midst of the transition between Yom ha’Shoah and Yom ha’Atzmaut.