Yom HaAtzmaut: Fulfilling the Vision
By Jessica Rosenblum, Assistant Director

Today is Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel's Independence Day. Fifty-seven years ago by the Jewish calendar, on May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion announced the establishment of the State of Israel by reading from Israel's Declaration of Independence:

WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.

As American Jews, we congratulate Israel on marking this anniversary and on its tremendous political, economic and cultural development in less than sixty years.

On Yom HaAtzmaut, let us celebrate the richness of the vision of Israel's founders by recommitting ourselves to supporting the people of Israel in fulfilling it. Together, let us work to strengthen Israel by becoming the bold and steadfast partners in peace-making that both Israelis and Palestinians desire and deserve.

Please help us to raise our collective voice in support of "Pro-Israel! Pro-Peace! Progress!" by adding your name to Brit Tzedek's new national campaign today and helping us to gather support within your community by forwarding this message to friends or collecting signatures on our paper petitions.

Additional Suggestions for Yom HaAtzmaut:

  • Participate in community celebrations of Yom HaAtzmaut, including your local "Walk for Israel," wearing Brit Tzedek buttons and t-shirts. Show your community that you stand with them in support of Israel, even though you may have an alternative vision of what it means to be pro-Israel. For more information about acquiring Brit Tzedek paraphernalia, please write to info@btvshalom.org.

  • Integrate parts of an excellent Yom HaAtzmaut ceremony written by Brit Tzedek Religious Affairs Committee member Rabbi Rebecca Lillian into your own celebration of Israel's Independence Day.

  • Gather together with a hevruta (study partner) or better yet, a group of people to discuss Israel's Declaration of Independence. Use this time as an opportunity to connect with the ideals of founders of Israel, to share what those ideals mean to you, and to recommit to fulfilling the dream by supporting efforts in Israel that move it toward justice and peace.

    Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel has created Masechet HaAtzmaut, a Talmudic style commentary on the Declaration of Independence, which can be used to guide such discussions.

    RHR's discussion questions include: How has this vision of the founders of Israel inspired me? In what ways does it reflect my vision of Israel and in what way is it different from my own? How did the authors of the Declaration envision creating a state that is at one and the same time a Jewish state yet also a state that affords equality to all its citizens? How can we build a state that is both Jewish and democratic? What am I prepared to do over the coming year to help fulfill the vision of a state that is based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel?

  • Please send any additional suggestions you have about celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut to the Religious Affairs committee, rac@btvshalom.org.


Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206

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