by: Ilse Posselt, Bridges for Peace
The restoration of Israel to its God-given homeland has long since been regarded as nothing short of miraculous. Each year, the Jewish nation marks the day with thanksgiving and praises to God.
This year, Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of the Israeli city of Efrat, launched an initiative inviting Christians to join the people of Israel in giving thanks. Entitled “Day to Praise,” the initiative aimed to unite Jews and Christians around the world in giving praises to God for the tremendous miracle He has done in our lifetime.
“Day to Praise” took place on Israel’s Independence Day. It was celebrated by reciting Psalms 113-118. David Nekrutman, Executive Director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation [CJCUC], explained the significance.
“Psalms 113-118 has a rich history in Jewish liturgy. It is recited during the morning prayers on biblical feasts such as Passover, Shavout (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)… This series of psalms is entitled Hallel, which means praise.”
A year after Israel’s rebirth, the Chief Rabbinate instituted Independence Day as a minor holiday within the sacred calendar of the Jewish people. That is why reciting the Hallel on this day is regarded as an integral part of the celebrations.
The purpose of Hallel, says Nekrutman, is to thank God for His extraordinary redemptive acts towards His people. The rebirth of the State of Israel according to God’s promise is not only a Jewish miracle, but something that Christians can also rejoice in.
According to Nekrutman, the inspiration for the initiative was found in the Hallel itself. Psalm 117 issues a clear invitation to the nations to praise God for His covenantal love and faithfulness towards Israel.
Photo Credit: A Pilcher/BridgesforPeace
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