Israel’s 72nd Birthday Signifies Hope and Longevity

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Just a few days after Pesach, Israel stopped to commemorate the Holocaust Remembrance Day. On Tuesday, Israel commemorated the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending the citizens of the State of Israel.

Today, on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, Israel makes the harsh transition from mourning to jubilation, as we celebrate Israel’s 72nd birthday.

The days between Pesach and Yom Ha'atzmaut are the most meaningful and powerful days in Israel. The entire country comes together to mourn and celebrate, to remember and to rejoice.

This year, during our Passover seder, which was so different from any other seder I have experienced in the past, I was thinking about the resemblance between the story of the Exodus and the settling of the 12 tribes in the land of Israel , to our lives today.

Generations of Jews said:

בכל דוד ודור חייב אדם לראות עצמו כאלו הוא יצא ממצרים""

"In each and every generation a person must see himself as if he came out of Egypt"

Generations of Jews kept their hope alive through the most desparate times.

With the dream and vision of Theodor Herzl, we are witnessing the miracle of the gathering of Jews from all the corners of the world to the land of Israel and the establishment of a state for the Jewish people.

My father and my grandparents were able to escape Poland in 1936 and came to Palestine. They were the only survivors from their extended family.

My father in-law survived Auschwitz, the death march and Mauthausen concentration camps. He lost his wife and his little child, Meir .He ended at a displaced persons camp in South Italy.

Although he was invited by his Aunt to join her in Chicago, he responded, "there is only one place in the world which I will go and live - Israel.

He got married at the deportation camp and reached the shores of Eretz Israel with his new wife in 1947. They raised four kids including my wife, Naomi. There are now more than 70 grandchildren and great grandchildren - all who live in Israel.

We are living in historic times. There are currently 6.8 million Jews living in Israel. In just a few years, the majority of the Jews in the world will live in Israel.

Today, we celebrate and rejoice in Israel's independence. We celebrate a miracle which so many generations of Jews were praying for and dreaming about.

We celebrate in everyday conversation about the revival of our ancient language – Hebrew, spoken by millions.

We celebrate our ability to defend our Jewish state by our sons and daughters serving proudly in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

We celebrate the innovation of the Israeli agriculture which has helped to save millions of lives in Africa and other parts of the world from starvation.

We celebrate the innovations of hundreds of Israeli scientists and high-tech entrepreneurs working on finding solutions which will help the world fight the coronavirus.

The words for Lekha Dodi written by Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz in the 16th century in Tzfat, have become a reality:

התעוררי התעוררי כי בא אורך קומי אורי

עורי עורי שיר דברי , כבוד ה' עליך נגלה

Awake and arise to greet the new light

For your radiance, the world will be bright

Sing out, for darkness is hidden from sight

The Lord through you - his glory displays

Chag Hatzmaut Sameach.

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