I know that most people who read this blog know the significance of this exclamation, but I feel strongly that I should share it and talk about it today.
This is the soft shout that we gave our son as he left for his 2 year mission for our church. I wanted to share the story about where this particular saying comes from.
(From the book, Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints)
The Prophet called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to go to England on missions. Elder Orson Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was sent to Jerusalem to dedicate Palestine for the gathering of the Jewish people and other children of Abraham. Missionaries were sent to preach throughout the United States and eastern Canada, and Addison Pratt and others received calls to go to the Pacific Islands.
These brethren made great sacrifices as they left their homes and families to respond to their calls to serve the Lord. Many members of the Twelve were struck with the ague as they prepared to depart for England. Wilford Woodruff, who was very ill, left his wife, Phoebe, almost without food and the necessities of life. George A. Smith, the youngest Apostle, was so sick that he had to be carried to the wagon, and a man who saw him asked the driver if they had been robbing the graveyard. Only Parley P. Pratt, who took his wife and children with him, his brother Orson Pratt, and John Taylor were free from disease as they left Nauvoo, although Elder Taylor later became terribly ill and almost died as they traveled to New York City.
Brigham Young was so ill that he was unable to walk even a short distance without assistance, and his companion, Heber C. Kimball, was no better. Their wives and families, too, lay suffering. When the Apostles reached the crest of a hill a short distance from their homes, both lying in a wagon, they felt as though they could not endure leaving their families in so pitiful a condition. At Heber’s suggestion, they struggled to their feet, waved their hats over their heads, and shouted three times, “Hurrah, Hurrah, for Israel.” Their wives, Mary Ann and Vilate, gained strength enough to stand and, leaning against the door frame, they cried out, “Good-bye, God bless you.” The two men returned to their wagon beds with a spirit of joy and satisfaction at seeing their wives standing instead of lying sick in bed.
So now when I hear this shout, I think of every missionary that has ever left the loving arms of their family to go and share the Gospel. I think of every family member who watched them leave. I think of the strength and faith that it took to do that, and I used to wonder if I would have that strength and faith myself. Now I know that I do. We have that strength and faith because we know that it is our charge to share what we know.
So when I use the expression, "Hurrah for Israel!" just know that I am saying, "This is God's work! It hurts to have him gone, but this is one of the most important things he will ever do! God is good, and merciful, and I put my son in His unwavering and perfect hands. All is well!"