On Thursday, May 8, we will join with Jews across the world to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut — the 66th 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 harrnony 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 determination. Israel is a land that boasts of many ancient buildings, but the people are focused on building the future. A group of us from Temple Sinai visited Israel this past year and we saw first hand the vitality and spirit of those who call Israel their home.
It is our fervent prayer for Israel as she celebrates her 66th birthday that she will come to know peace. The celebration of Israel’s 66th anniversary should cause us to stop for a moment and pause. Think about it: in such a short time Israel has established herself as a world power — a center of learning and culture, a major economic and technological center.
This year let us rejoice as we celebrate the miracle of the State of Israel.