Yom HaAtzmaut (April 2013)

On Tuesday, April l6, we will join with Jews across the world to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, the 65th Anniversary of the modern State of Israel. Israel is the heart of the Jewish people. It is our ancestral home where our sacred and historical language, Hebrew, is spoken as a living language. Jewish identity over the past 100 years has been greatly shaped by three forces: anti-Semitism, which remains a virulent force in too many parts of the world, the Holocaust, which saw the systematic extermination of more than six million Jews and the establishment of the State of Israel, which is constantly embattled and needs to struggle to defend its very existence.

In a region that is characterized more by theocracies and autocracies, Israel is a democracy which dreams of a day when its citizens and neighbors can live in harmony and peace. Like all democracies, Israel is far from perfect but it is, in every sense of the word, on the front line of the struggle for everything we hold dear. Israel is home to many things that are spiritual, but it is home in the end to the human spirit of resilience, of confidence and determi- nation, Israel is a land that boasts of many ancient buildings but the people are focused on building the future.

It is our fervent prayer for Israel as she celebrates her 65th birthday that she will crime to know peace. Whenever I become involved in a conversation about Israel, I find myself wanting to get back there for another look. I want to see what is growing and blossoming there. For 65 years, the State of Israel has not known a single day of peace. It has struggled with the rejection of its neighbors as well as the demons of history. Virtually alone among the nations of the world, old or new, its legitimacy is in question. That’s why it’s important for American Jews to travel to Israel to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of the last 65 years, I will be leading a trip to Israel in October. We already have several people signed up for the trip. We need a few more to make the trip happen. I encourage you to join us on the once-in-a-lifetime trip, exploring the beauty, history, and people in this sacred land. It will definitely be an experience of a lifetime.

This year let us rejoice as we celebrate the miracle of the State of Israel.

Rabbi Jeffrey Bennett