3 Words Define the Miracle of Jewish History: AM YISRAEL CHAI!

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The Jewish people total around 16 million souls, less than 0.1 percent of the earth’s population. If not for innumerable persecutions over the past 3,500 years, the People of Israel would number in the hundreds of millions.

The Jewish people’s miraculous survival and triumph over baseless hatred and destruction are defined by just three words: Am Yisrael Chai! Which means the People (Am), of Israel (Yisrael), live (chai)!

The great American author Mark Twain said of the Jewish people’s remarkable ability to  defy history.


Mark Twain – 1835-1910

“Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of…He has made a marvelous fight in this world in all ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself and be excused for it.

The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed and made a vast noise, and they were gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, and have vanished….All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

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Golda Meir near the Moscow Great Synagogue in 1948.

Judaism has an answer to Mark Twain’s question. The Torah teaches that no matter how deep the Jewish soul is buried, it retains an unbreakable connection to God which yearns to express itself.

This yearning goes back to the the Book of Genesis in the Bible. After a decades long separation from his family with no news of his father Israel’s welfare, Joseph asks his brothers, “Is my father (Israel) alive?” (Genesis 45:3) Clearly, separation could not break the connection.

This connection survived even in post-World War II Stalinist Russia where Soviet Jewry faced massive religious persecution and Jewish life could only be practiced underground.

In the face of the 6,000,000 Jewish souls that perished during the horrors of the Holocaust, Soviet Jews feared for the fate of their brothers and sisters on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

In a courageous display of solidarity, Golda Meir’s arrival as Israel’s ambassador to Russia on October 4, 1948 was met by tens of thousands of Soviet Jews crowded around Moscow’s Great Synagogue, risking imprisonment or worse to celebrate their Jewish identity and catch a glimpse of this emissary from the newly-born Jewish state.

In 1965, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry asked Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, one of this past century’s most influential Jewish folk singers and spiritual leaders to compose a song to give strength to Russian Jews facing oppression. In response, Rabbi Carlbach wrote “Am Yisrael Chai,” the People of Israel live!

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Am Yisrael Chai became the anthem of Soviety Jewry’s struggle for emancipation from anti-religious oppression and is still sung worldwide by the People of Israel as a rallying cry for Jewish life to continue and thrive.

Am yisrael chai (עם ישראל חי)

Am Ysroel Chai
Kan zo hatora, vekan zo hatfilah
Vekan shokhenet hashkhina
Kan artzeinu hakdosha, asher natata
Lo nazuz mikan le’olam.
Kan zo habrakha, vekan zo havtakha,
Mikan tavo hage’ula
Mashiach Ben-David yavo veyig’alenu,
Lo nazuz mikan.
Eretz shenitna bitnai,
Im tishmeru et khukotai,
Likhyot be’eret ha’avot,
Lishmor ulekayem mitzvot
Lizkor ki im kol hatikvot
Am Yisrael khai!
Kan anu bonim, vekan anu khaim,
Mikan lenetzakh netzakhim
Nekebal aleinu ol malkhut shamayim,
Velo nazuz mikan le’olam
Kan yashavnu zkenim, zkenot ve’ne’arim,
Mikan ve’ad akharit yamim
Nakhon yihiye har bait
HaShem biyerushalaim
Velo nazuz mikan
Kan yakum mikdash, cohen gadol yigash,
Lekol shirat haleviyim
Veshir hama’alot nashir kulanu yakhad,
Lo nazuz mikan le’olam.
Kan yavo go’el, le’eretz Yisrael,
Ve’ish el akhiv yomar:
Khazak khazak venitkhazek kulanu yakhad
Velo nazuz mikan.
Hatora hi khayenu,
Nitna lanu bizkhut avoteinu
Ankhnu kan be’artznu
Lo nazuz mikan le’olam.

English translation:

The people of Israel are alive
Here is the Torah, and here is the prayer,
and here is the divine spirit
here is our holy land, which you gave us
we will never move from here.
here is the blessing, and here is the promise,
from here will come the salvation
the redeemer, son of David will come and redeem us
we will not move from here.
A land that was given in a condition,
“if you’ll obey my laws”,
to live in the fatherland,
to keep and fulfill your commandments
to remember that with all the hopes
the people of Israel are alive!
here we are bilding, and here we are leaving
from here, for eternity,
we will excepet the yoke of Heaven
and we will never move from here
here we sat, old and young
from here and until the end of the days
prepared will be the temple mount
God in Jerusalem
and we will not move from here
here will arise the temple, high priest will approach
to the sound of the Leviyim
and Shir HaMa’alot we will all sing together
we will never move frome here.
here will come a redeemer, to the land of Israel,
and to one another we will say:
Strong and be strengthened, all of us together
and we will note move from here.
the Torah is our lives
that was given to us for our fathers’s right
we are here in our country and we will never move form here.
and will not move from here.

source: United with Israel

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