The longing for Zion - songs, videos and discussions

Updated: May 28

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INTRODUCATION

A lesson designed for Israel's Independence Day. Through music and film, discuss about:

  • The spiritual connection between world Jewry: how Soviet Jewry inspired Jews in the free world to make Aliyah.

  • Talk about the role, influence and importance of the young State of Israel to Jews around the world.


MATERIALS

  1. Song: Blue And White l VIEW / PRINT the lyrics in English & Transliteration

  2. Film trailer: Operation Wedding

  3. Song: The Land Is In My Dreams

  4. News clip: Israel Independence day 1979 Prisoners of Zion are free! (Operation Wedding group members)


PROCEDURE


THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG - Blue & White (Kachol Ve-Lavan) Kachol Ve-Lavan (Hebrew: Blue and White), in an Hebrew patriot song that became an anthem of Soviet Jewry and was also popular in Israel.

The song and its melody were written in the late 60’s by Israel Rashel, a Jewish resident of Minsk, who was then 21. Herschel wrote the poem in Hebrew in order to express his connection to Israel. He fought for his right to immigrate to Israel until he achieved it in March 1971.

Refuseniks singing. (c) Remember & Save

THE SONG’S MEANING The song expresses feelings and meanings associated with blue and white colors, the national colors of the State of Israel.

LINKS

VIEW / PRINT the lyrics in English, Transliteration and Hebrew Song's melody: https://youtu.be/qsVXn3bzGvI


Operation Wedding:

The 1970 attempted abduction of a small empty plane by a group of young refuseniks, in order to reach Israel (and their final release to Israel on Independence Day 1979).


Show students the trailer for the documentary film "Wedding Operation":

https://youtu.be/ef2x9CjitYo


Discussion after the trailer


Members of Operation Wedding group have been accepted (to this day) as heroes in Israel and in all the countries of the free world. What is the difference between what they did, that is considered as heroism, to a terrorist act of hijacking planes, which is a crime?

Answer: the group members took an empty plane, not people.

They did not threaten civilians and did not plan to kidnap civilians. They actually only endangered themselves.

This is the difference between a hero and a terrorist - a terrorist uses civilian lives to achieve his goal. A hero only endangers himself.



INPIRED BY SOVIET JEWS, in another side of the world, in Toronto Canada, a song was written by activits Toby Klein Greenwald, inspired by a famous Refusenik, Natan Sharansky:

"This story appears to have begun in 1984 but, in truth, it began in 1967.

That was when I read the book by Elie Wiesel, The Jews of Silence, about Soviet Jewry who, the oppression notwithstanding, would come out of the shadows to celebrate on Simhat Torah.

A few years later my husband and I became shlichim (teacher emissaries) in Toronto. In 1984, Avital Sharansky, while on a North American tour to advocate for Natan, came to speak to our students at the Bnei Akiva high schools Yeshivat Or Chaim and Ulpanat Orot.

Following her talk, I was inspired to write a song called, “The Land is in my Dreams,” in honor of Natan and all the other Prisoners of Zion in the Soviet Union.


In 1985 we moved to Efrat (in Israel). I gave my song to Richard Shavei-Tzion, the conductor of the Efrat choir, and he included it in a cassette recording they produced, on which he and Robynne Rendel sang the song as a duet.

In 1986, after Natan was released from prison, he came with Avital to visit Efrat.

Richard and Robynne sang my song to them, from the stage.

Afterwards, Natan signed the lyrics, with the words,

“Thanks a lot for such a nice song! Natan Sharansky. Next year in Jerusalem!”

The story of Natan Sharansky and the many other Prisoners of Zion, and the story of the refuseniks, is one that needs to be revisited and remembered. They are heroes and many of them still walk among us.

My own wish is that the song, “The Land is in my Dreams” will be sung around campfires and at community events in the years to come.

Perhaps it will inspire others to return to the land of our dreams.

(from the article: Journey of a song)


https://youtu.be/YUwjITUj3K8

Discuss the effect that the Soviet Jewry had on Jews from the free world, many of them also made Aliyah, inspired by Soviet Jews.



Happy ending:

While members of the "Operation Wedding" group paid the price of freedom in Soviet prison, about 245,000 Jews were released from the USSR in the 1970's. 163,000 of them made Aliyah to Israel. This wave of Aliyah was titled in Israel "Let My People Go".

Sylva Zalmanson (the woman from the trailer who dances waltz in prison yard), was released after 4 long years in prison, directly to Israel. She continued to fight for her husband, her brothers and her friends who were left behind.

In 1979, nine years after their arrest, most members of the group were released, earlier than expected, thanks to an exchange of prisoners with the United States and arrived in Israel just in time to celebrate Independence Day.

"The first thing you see here is that all people are FREE they express themselves freely, they are FREE in their attitude towards other people." Edward Kuznetsov, PRISONER OF ZION / First week in Israel, Independence Day 1979

Show students the CBS News Archive describing their arrival (in English with Hebrew subtitles): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwB_gYGZRHM