2017-04-26 / Editorial

Israel’s 69th anniversary is a time of reflection and celebration

As the calendar ticks closer to events marking Israel’s 69th anniversary, it is time to both take stock of the steep price paid for independence as well as the accomplishments achieved by the vibrant young nation and its people.

The point of linking Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day, to Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day, is very clear. Israelis owe their independence — the very existence of the only Democratic state thriving in the troubled Middle East — to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives defending it. Coming within a week of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the connection between past, present and future is further cemented.

Officially known as Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day, Yom HaZikaron begins with the sound of a piercing siren that brings the country to a complete standstill at 8 p.m., then again at 11 a.m. the next morning for two minutes of silent remembrance. Entertainment venues, cafes and restaurants are closed. Many Israelis visit military cemeteries during the day as so many have personal connections with the dead.

Towards the close of the day, the heavy mood lifts as Israelis emerge from the somber observations to celebrate the nation’s birthday. People take to streets to attend outdoor concerts, parties and barbecues, as well as to watch fireworks displays.

For Jews in South Jersey and worldwide, joining with Israelis in celebrating these modern holidays has become a concrete link in the Jewish connection to the land of Israel. Sixty-nine may not be one of those milestone years that garners more attention in the mainstream media, but for the Jewish people, every year of the existence of the modern state of Israel is precious and remarkable. 

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