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, M.A. Education, is a television host, travel journalist as well as a passionate artist, educator and writer who has explored 101 countries, 6 continents and sailed on cruise ships for seven years on the high seas and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which was read in 212 countries in 2018 and named #3 on the top 1000 Travel Blog and the top female travel blogger 3 times in 2019. Find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over one million views on her YouTube channel. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on both Twitter and Facebook, has over 150,000 followers across social media and ran fifteen travel competitions publishing over 2500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. She has been a finalist for six Southern California Journalism Awards in the past three years and won an award for her Jewish Journal article. Niver has written for AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres (United Airlines), Jewish Journal, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Myanmar Times, National Geographic, POPSUGAR, Robb Report, Saturday Evening Post, Scuba Diver Life, Sierra Club, Ski Utah, Smithsonian, Trivago, USA Today 10best, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Scary Challenges Before 50,” about her most recent travels and challenges. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip. http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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