Jewish tradition teaches, “Rejoice in your holy days, and may your holy days be joyous.”
As it turns out, Judaism has dozens of words that are all synonyms for “celebrate.” Simcha, rina, ditza, oneg… These are just a few.
We learn a lot about a culture from its language. That Judaism has so many different ways of expressing joy says something about the role of celebration in Judaism.
Jewish celebrations are all about life. We don’t celebrate the defeat of our enemies, but rather the strength and courage of our people. We don’t celebrate the petty things in life, but rather the moments that define our people. And ask anyone who has ever been to a Jewish simcha— Jews know how to celebrate.
Yom Ha’atzmaut– Israel’s 67th independence day– is celebrated this week. It follows a day of unfathomable grief and mourning. A wise culture juxtaposes grief and joy, mourning and celebration, because it understands that these phenomena are inextricably linked.
Being a Jew has forever shaped the way I experience joy and think about celebration.
How and what do you celebrate? And what does your celebration say about you?