Today is Israel’s 69th Yom HaAtzmaut. Israelis and friends of Israel around the world, celebrate the Independence Day of this amazing country.
There is so much to celebrate about Israel’s past year. Israeli start-up Mobileye was sold to Intel for $15.3 billion, as investment in Israeli start-ups continues to pour in. Israel’s economic growth was 6.2% in the final quarter of 2016, and its population continues to grow fast, now surpassing 8.5 million people!
However, this year also featured the passing of some of Israel’s heroes – the iconic Shimon Peres z”l passed away in September, and Jewish hero Elie Wiesel z”l also passed away.
There are many special events that take place on Yom HaAtzmaut in Israel. In the evening, twelve heroes of Israeli society, ordinary people who have done amazing things, light twelve torches, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, in honor of their achievements. The Bible Quiz for Youth, featuring participants from all over the world, takes place on this day, and the Israel Prize is also awarded to leading figures in fields such as education, science and Judaism. Israelis celebrate the day by getting together with friends and family in parks and forests all over the country.
And as we celebrate the amazing country, we cast our mind back to that fateful day 69 years ago, when a group of Jewish leaders gathered in Tel Aviv, and as the British Mandate ended, read the Declaration of Independence. Even if one doesn’t understand Hebrew, it is amazing to watch the historic moment, when after more than two-thousand years of waiting, David Ben Gurion said the words:
“We hereby announce, the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel – the State of Israel.”
Happy Independence Day!