Nations Bless Israel.
Blessed are you O Lord our G-d, ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this day.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לזְּמַן הַזֶּה.
My parents – both survivors – came to this great country after the Shoah, the Holocaust.
Imagine if when only a teenager, my late mother whilst being in the hellhole that was Auschwitz, would have been told that she would live to see the re-establishment of the Jewish State.
Such an idea was beyond any possible comprehension or expectation.
And beyond hope.
I never knew my grandparents.
Nor many of my aunts and uncles
And of course, cousins and extended family.
One of our most famous sages – Rashi – said that the only rational explanation for the survival and continuity of the Jewish People – was to believe in miracles.
And yet here we are today, meriting to celebrate 70 years since the re-establishment of the State of Israel.
שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this day.
There has been a dramatic change in the condition of the Jew – and it is because of only one reason – the State of Israel – with her Holy capital – Jerusalem.
We are privileged to live in this wonderful country – Australia – where one can be a proud Australian, a proud Jew and a proud Zionist – without any contradiction, conflict of loyalties, or ethical or moral dilemmas about being all three.
We have just passed the commemoration of two days that are linked like no other – and that link both Australia and Israel.
Yom Hazikaron, Israeli Remembrance Day, and ANZAC day.
103 years ago at Gallipoli, the Australian spirit was forged and for many it was the coming of age for Australia as a nation.
Well my friends it was also, right there at Gallipoli, that the first Jewish fighting force in over 2000 years, since the time of Bar Kochba, was also tested in battle, and became the nucleus of Tzva Haganah LeYisrael – the IDF – the Israel Defence Forces.
They were called the Zion Mule Corps – their flag became the flag of the State of Israel, their emblem was the Magen David – the Star of David – and their song as they set sail for Gallipoli – the future anthem of Israel – the Hatikvah.
And at Gallipoli, half the force fighting alongside the ANZACs.
Tonight, I am not going to tell the story of all the key players involved there and then. Nor of one of the greatest Christian Zionists that ever lived, the commander of the Zion Mule Corps, the Irish Protestant Lt Col John Henry Patterson. The man who later became the best friend on Benzion Netanyahu, the father of the Prime Minister of Israel.
I am also not going to talk about Joseph Trumpeldor, one of the greatest Jewish fighters in our history, who was the deputy commander of the Zion Mule Corps, later killed in 1920 at the battle of Tel Hai.
But I do want to talk about one Jewish ANZAC who knew of John Henry and Trumpeldor from Gallipoli.
Col Eliezer Margolin DSO.
Margolin had migrated with his parents and siblings from Russia to Palestine in the late 1800’s and settled in Rehovot. The early 1900’s was a time of famine and hardship, and with both his parents having passed away within a week of each other, leaving only Eliezer to look after his brother and sister, Eliezer decided to seek his fortune elsewhere, with the intention to eventually return to Palestine.
In Palestine, Eliezer had been part of a Jewish self-defence group that protected Jewish villages in the area, from marauding Arab gangs.
In 1902, he came to Sydney Australia and after a short while he moved to Collie in Western Australia.
By 1904 Margolin became a citizen.
In 1911 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and formed the Collie Company of the 1st Battalion.
In December 1914 he was promoted to Captain in the 16th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.
Leading B Company, he landed at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 1915.
And he was awarded his DSO for action during an evacuation in September.
He went on to fight in France, reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the 14th Australian Battalion and was wounded several times.
Eventually he was evacuated to London hospital.
And who does he meet up with there, again, Lt Col John Henry Patterson.
Now Patterson came up with another crazy idea. He wanted to be part of the British entry into Palestine and the attempt to liberate it from centuries of Ottoman rule.
He wanted to form, or rather reform, a Jewish volunteer battalion to participate.
British Jews were opposed to any fighting force in the British Army being called Jewish, as they were worried about antisemitism.
So John Henry took the name of the 38th Royal Fusiliers for his battalion.
He asked the ANZAC, Eliezer Margolin to head the 39th and eventually Margolin convinced his old friends based in Rehovot to form the 3rd Jewish battalion – called the 40th Royal Fusiliers.
The 38th Battalion of the Jewish Legion was the first into battle in 1918 and fought around Jerusalem and then fell under the overall command of the ANZAC Mounted Division.
The three Jewish battalions (which plus two depot battalions numbered some 5,000 Jews all told) were commanded by John Henry with Eliezer Margolin as deputy commander. Ultimately Margolin took overall command.
You may recognise some of the names of those who served under Margolin – Private David Ben Gurion, Nehemia Rabin, Berl Katzynelson, 2 future Presidents of Israel…………
After the Armistice, most of the Jewish volunteers who had come from overseas, returned to their homes, but Margolin stayed in Palestine and organised a new unit – The Judaeans – which remained part of the British Army.
During the riots that broke out in Palestine and whilst Jews were being murdered, the British maintained a policy of neutrality and refused to allow Margolin to take the Judaeans to rescue the Jews.
In May of 1920 Margolin could stand it no longer and against orders, took some 300 of the Judaeans out of their barracks and saved the Jews of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
The Jews of Palestine named him Governor of Jerusalem.
Margolin was “released from the army”, sent back to Perth where he opened a service station and later died in 1944, before the State was established.
In 1949 his remains were taken to Israel and met by a military guard of honour at Haifa. His old soldier, now Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion was part of the procession which also passed through the newly named Eliezer Margolin Square at Moshav Avichail.
Margolin was reburied next to his parents in Rehovot.
No, there is no contradiction between being a proud Australian, a proud Jew and a proud Zionist.
The Australian, Jewish, Zionist ANZAC, Colonel Eliezer Margolin DSO, demonstrated all of these parts, to make a whole.
I would like to recite from Psalm 126:
בְּשׁוּב יְהוָה, אֶת-שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן– הָיִינוּ, כְּחֹלְמִים
אָז יִמָּלֵא שְׂחוֹק, פִּינוּ– וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה
A Song of Ascents:
When G-d brought back those who returned to Zion, we were like those who dream
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue was filled with song
אָז, יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם– הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת עִם-אֵלֶּה
הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת עִמָּנוּ– הָיִינוּ שְׂמֵחִים
Then they said among the Nations
“The Lord has done great things with them”
“The Lord has done great things with us”
Am Yisrael Chai
Long Live the People of Israel.
Am Yisrael Chai
The People of Israel are alive.
Am Yisrael Chai
The People of Israeli live.
Note from editor.
This article was adapted by Dr. Ron Weiser AM. from a speech he gave last Sunday evening 30th April 2018 at the North Shore Synagogue in Lindfield, Sydney at the event “Nations Bless Israel” organised by The North Shore Synagogue and the Rev. Hon. Fred Nile in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the rebirth of the Jewish State.
New Zealand also had commemoration services …
“The release of blessing will start in New Zealand and move from nation to nation, from the ends of the earth to Israel.”
It was an emotional evening which approximately 400 people attended, both Jews and Gentiles, and people of many races to bless Israel through prayer, worship, declaration and bible readings.
The Christian Nations Bless Israel organisation says on its website :
Over many centuries Christians have not always blessed Jews. In pogroms, purges, in direct persecution or in silence – Christians have taken part in cursing Jewish people. We are taking responsibility to stand in agreement that every curse would be broken and that blessing be released.
We’re agreeing with God’s word and call to bless – “I will bless those who bless you,” Genesis 12:3.
We’re assured of God’s intention that – all nations of the world will be blessed; that giving blessing makes a way for receiving blessing.
We’re recognising the roots of our faith, and responding with gratitude for the gifts we’ve been given,
– the patriachs and matriachs, the scriptures, the apostles, the martyrs, the good news which was preached from Jerusalem, Judaea to the ends of the earth.
– We are not a new tree, we are grafted in – we are connected. Romans 11.
We’re seeking the fullness of purpose and promise for God’s chosen people and all of God’s children to be fulfilled.
We’re aligning our nations with God’s end time purposes.