68 years old! Israeli Independence Day


Raising the Ink Flag at Umm Rashrash (Eilat) By http://www.flickr.com/people/69061470@N05 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Raising the Ink Flag at Umm Rashrash (Eilat) 1948 By http://www.flickr.com/people/69061470@N05 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback in Israel this week with his sixth grade students

When the Eternal returned us to Zion, we were like dreamers!

בְּשׁוּב ה׳, אֶת-שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן–הָיִינוּ, כְּחֹלְמִים
Psalm 126:1

The State of Israel turns 68 years old this week, and you can feel the joy in the streets of Tel Aviv, where I’m accompanying some of our Wise School sixth-graders on our inaugural visit to our twin-school through a Federation-sponsored partnership.

It’s a time for celebration and thanksgiving. Sitting on the beach in Israel this Yom Ha’atzmaut with the warm Mediterranean waters lapping at my feet, watching Israeli Air Force planes flying overhead in formation, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude: for this extraordinary place, for its amazingly creative and resilient people, for the delicious food I’ve been enjoying all week, for the Hebrew language that gives me so much joy to speak and understand, and for the sense of home I feel whenever I’m here. I am so grateful for all of these blessings.

However, the way we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut reminds us that these blessings come at a steep cost. Israel Independence Day is immediately preceded by Yom HaZikaron – the Day of Remembrance for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

yoshi israelOn Wednesday of this week, I visited the home of a fallen soldier, Eran Berg (ז״ל), who was killed during his army service on February 22, 1994. Each year on Yom HaZikaron, friends and family gather in his parents’ home to remember. It was especially moving to witness his commanding officer visit. Even though the commander no longer serves in the IDF, he comes each year to pay his condolences. He arrived yesterday with his sixteen-year-old son, who is preparing to enter the IDF in just a few years. Our joy is lessened as we think about those whose sacrifice makes our celebration possible. They should be here to rejoice with us…

In our prayer for the State of Israel, we call this extraordinary place “The First Flowering of Our Redemption – רֵאשִׂית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵנוּ.” May it continue to flourish, grow, and develop into all we wish it might be. This is the Hope – the Tikvah – that has animated our dreams for the past 68 years and, indeed, for the previous two millennia as well.

With prayers for peace
and goodness for Israel and for our entire world,

Rabbi Yoshi

P.S. To see photos from our trip, visit me at on my Facebook page

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Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.6 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.6 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

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