Happy Yom Ha’atzma’ut – Happy Israel Independence Day! Today we celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday. In case you don’t know, Yom Ha’atzma’ut commemorates when David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, publicly read Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. According to the Jewish calendar that year May 14 was the fifth day of the month of Iyar. So, usually Yom Ha’atzma’ut is celebrated on the fifth of Iyar. But, if the fifth of Iyar falls on a Friday, as it does this year, Yom Ha’Atzma’ut is observed a day earlier so that the festivities do not interfere with preparations for the Sabbath. (And, by the way, if the fifth is a Saturday, the holiday is celebrated the prior Thursday, on the 3rd of Iyar.) Ah, to have a Jewish State!
Yes, there are many mishugeneh things about the State of Israel, some trivial, like the confusing calendar, and some not so trivial, like the internal divisions over religion and politics, and the seemingly intractable conflicts between Israel and her neighbors. But, today is not a day to dwell on such things. Today is a day to appreciate and celebrate the miracle that is the State of Israel. It is a day to recall the Zionist Movement and Israel’s early pioneers, the “chalutzim,” who built the state. It is a day to remember those who defended the state through its trials and tribulations. It is a day to celebrate all that Israel has achieved, all that Israel has become: a vibrant democracy; a technological and economic success story; the living, breathing homeland of the Jewish People who returned to Zion after 2000 years of statelessness!
I hope that you can join us tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. as we bring the special spirit of Israel into our Shabbat services in a unique way. In place of a number of our usual readings from our prayer book we will be reading the poetry of several Israeli women. Featuring the voice of Israeli women is a positive way for us to assert our Reform Jewish belief in egalitarianism while also celebrating the importance of Israel in our lives.
An important way to demonstrate your support of Israel as Reform Jews is to contribute to the Association of Reform Zionists of America/Reform Israel Fund (ARZA). This organization supports the growth and development of Reform Judaism in Israel. Your Temple dues statement includes a check off option to join ARZA for $36. Do you know if you have paid these ARZA dues? Contact Jeff Katz in our office to make sure at email@example.com“>firstname.lastname@example.org. Let him know you want to support ARZA . For additional information about ARZA go to www.arza.org. At the same time I hope that you also contribute to the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, which sends a substantial portion of your contributions to the Jewish Agency for important projects in Israel.
Perhaps the best way to support Israel (short of making aliyah!) is to travel there. Temple Sinai is planning a congregational trip for this coming December (December 20, 2012 – January 1) during the holiday break. Now is the time to register. For more information contact me at email@example.com“>firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Yom Ha’atzma’ut!
Rabbi Jordan Millstein
P.S. While Israel is turning 64, don’t forget that our very own Temple Sinai, born just a few years later, is turning 60. You can still get an ad into the journal for the May 12 celebration if you contact the office immediately. Also, please RSVP that you will be attending our 60th anniversary bash asap. Contact Hillary in our Temple office at email@example.com. Go to the Temple web site, www.templesinaibc.org for more information.