Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, falls on Thursday of this week (April 26th). Many of us will celebrate this holiday, even though we are not Israeli. This brings up an interesting question: What does Israel mean to Jews living in the Diaspora (regions outside of Israel)?
This question sparks a wide range of responses – some very passionate. One thing that is easy to agree on, however, is that Israel is a remarkable nation. In 1948, Israel was a Zionist state of 600,000 Jews looking for a political refuge. Today, Israel’s Jewish population is close to 5,500,000 and has had an impressive number of accomplishments – from the endless list of technology innovations to its vast number of democratic humanitarian efforts. We may not agree with every aspect of its government or policies, but there is a feeling of pride and joy that Israel exists. So this weekend hundreds of thousands of Jews will join together in wishing a Happy Birthday to Israel!
Hatikva - The Hope [Israel’s National Anthem]
Kol ode balevav P'nimah
Nefesh Yehudi homiyah
Ulfa'atey mizrach kadimah
Ayin l'tzion tzofiyah.
Ode lo avdah tikvatenu
Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim,
L'hiyot am chofshi b'artzenu
Eretz Tzion Yerushalayim
In the Jewish heart
A Jewish spirit still sings,
And the eyes look east
Our hope is not lost,
Our hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
In the land of Zion and Jerusalem