Imagine being in cold and grey Europe and being told that somewhere, there is a sun-drenched land where everything our people have hoped for will come true. Imagine being weary of persecution, of never being left alone and knowing that there is a land where Jews will again be their own Maccabees.
Shaul Tchernichovsky wrote the song “They say there is a land” in Germany in 1923, before making aliyah to Israel. Its message is still very relevant today.
Reading the words to this song while considering the lyrics of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (published 1939), one discovers a striking similarity that further underscores Jewish yearning for the sun-drenched land the Jews of the time heard about “once in a lullaby”.
In Israel Tu B’Shvat is almost here, the trees will begin to bloom while elsewhere it will still be grey and cold. There are still Jews who have never even seen Israel. There are still Jews who could benefit from the reminder in this song – that each and every one of us is responsible for being a Maccabee – those few who stood against the many, against all odds and through hard work, perseverance and faith, regained sovereignty in the sun-drenched land of Zion.