Yom Ha’Atzmaut is one of the most meaningful holidays in Israel. It is followed right after Yom Ha’Zikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror. Every year, the citizens of Israel make the transition from darkness to light, anguish to gratitude, death to life, tears to utter joy.
Throughout the country, people of all denominations and backgrounds travel the land, organize parties, concerts, BBQs, and hikes, to appreciate and celebrate Israel’s independence and founding. This year, Israel is celebrating 68 years since its birth, 68 years since the Jewish people declared official statehood. Across the Jewish world, in the Diaspora and in Israel, Yom Ha’Atzmaut is deemed one of the happiest days of the year.
Although Independence Day is being celebrated throughout Israel today, a number of CAMERA – supported groups celebrated the country’s independence last week. Friends of Israel at Virginia Tech and Bi-Co Friends of Israel at Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College hosted parties to celebrate another year of Israel’s independence. Many students gathered to participate in the festivities. These celebrations were shared by students of all different backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities. Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and Americans, came together to enjoy food, win prizes, and dance to Israeli music.
The events were made up of multiple Jewish groups including, Alpha Epsilon Pi, The Jewish Student Union, Hillel, and other non-affiliated Jews on campus. Alongside these Jewish organizations, the gatherings saw members of Zeta Phi Beta, students of the Virginia Tech Honors College, and other individuals who sought to learn more about Israel. Along with the exciting and engaging activities that were organized, there were also education aspects. Attendees learned about Israel’s impact on the world technologically, economically, ecologically, and more.
With the combined efforts of students, faculty, BICEP fellows, Sababa Ethic Entrepreneurship Interns, and sponsors, CAMERA, Masa Israel Journey, StandWithUs, Hasbara Fellowships, and the Zionist Organization of America, these CAMERA-supported Israel groups successfully hosted the most notable Yom Ha’Atzmaut events in the past few years.
Although these celebrations took place at the end of the semester, there is still a great deal to look forward to. During the events, students were provided with information on different programs and trips to Israel, as well as opportunities to engage with their campus leaders. Virginia Tech, Haverford College, and Bryn Mawr College received a refreshing taste of Israeli culture and society, as well as strengthened solidarity between these Jewish communities. Happy Independence Day!