24 April 2020
In many ways, our worlds have shrunk over the last few weeks. We are sticking close to home, keeping tabs on our circle of loved ones, and paying close attention to local news. Hopefully, this continues to serve us well. At the same time, we also know that we are part of something larger. No matter where we are in the world, we have always seen the broader communities in which we live, the global Jewish people, and Israel as core components of our tribe.
On April 29, we will have an opportunity to connect back in with our global Jewish community as we come together to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day and 72nd birthday. What is normally an annual celebration of the creation of the State of Israel is, this year, all that and more. It is a chance to join together to commemorate the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people, and to honor and celebrate our resilience in a challenging time.
I invite you to take part in the Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities by joining with tens of thousands of people around the world in attending The Jewish Federations of North America’s Facebook Live event. The one-hour broadcast will feature serious moments, including an address from Isaac Herzog, Chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and an update from Israel’s COVID-19 frontlines, as well as plenty of celebratory content, from special musical guests to a debate among celebrity chefs about the origins of falafel. You can find more information, share your Israel stories, and RSVP for the live event here: jfeds.org/YomHaatzmaut.
This virtual gathering is but one of many ways Greater Washington is staying connected with Israel even—and especially—as our communities commit to unprecedented quarantine measures for the sake of public health and safety. I am heartened to see our community members avail themselves of Israel-focused virtual programs and turn to Israel and Israelis for mutual support, camaraderie, and inspiration.
Next week’s online celebration will culminate in a worldwide rendition of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, which aptly translates in English as “The Hope.” If there was ever a moment for hope, it is right now. For many, celebrating Israel means celebrating what is possible when we work together to live up to our aspirations as a people. But beyond shaping our own destiny, looking back at Israel’s founding gives us the opportunity to contemplate our broader responsibilities in the world.
The global Jewish community can play a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for a brighter future for all by living up to our ideals, caring for the needs of others, and pushing forward with innovative new ideas. Yom Ha’atzmaut may be a day in which we celebrate what we have achieved in our past, but it is also a reminder that many accomplishments remain.