Fifty Years Ago at PAS - June 1967 – The Six-Day War
In the weeks preceding and the months following the Six Day War, Rabbi Judah Nadich delivered impassioned sermons describing his fears as the Middle East crisis escalated and his pride at what he hoped was its resolution. On May 27, Rabbi Nadich told the congregation:
The sputtering powder keg of the Middle East seems about to explode . . . Will this be a war marked for the first time by ICBMs – Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles with atomic warheads? Will it be a thermonuclear war with atomic fallout? And will it result in the devastation of the earth? And in the end of human history?
On Shabbat morning, June 3, just hours before war broke out, Rabbi Nadich said urgently that Israel was readying itself for “external aggression.” The Rabbinic Assembly had met in Washington, DC the previous week and had spent much of the convention discussing what rabbis and American Jews could do to support Israel in the weeks ahead. By the following Shabbat, June 10, the Six-Day War had been launched and concluded. On that date, Rabbi Nadich’s voice was more at ease, but it was clear that his concerns regarding the stability of the region and whether a lasting peace would be achieved were unresolved.
Two weeks later, on June 24, the weekly Torah portion was Sh’lah L’kha, the story of the twelve scouts sent by Moses to explore the land that the Children of Israel were to enter. Alone among the scouts, Joshua and Caleb expressed confidence that the Israelites would succeed in settling the land: The Lord is with us – do not fear them – do not fear the foe. Rabbi Nadich took up from there.
The world was convinced but a few weeks ago that the people of Israel would be slaughtered. Even we, the Jews of America, we were seized by great fear for the Jews of Israel. They did not want war. But if war would come they were convinced that they would win. They would have to win; for them there was no alternative. And to the amazement of the world and to our own sheer joy, they did win . . . and finally after 2,000 years the Jews have come home.
On September 9 as he welcomed the congregation back from the summer break and then on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, October 6, Rabbi Nadich highlighted the exultation felt by Jews at the victory in June in "The Harvest of Summer" and “The Effects of a Miracle.”
Every Jew felt the bond of destiny linking him with the Jews of Israel . . . suddenly Torah and prophecy and tradition came alive and we realized that the Bible is not a closed book. It is still being written.