As long as in the heart within,
The Jewish soul yearns,
And toward the eastern edges, onward,
An eye gazes toward Zion.
Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope that is two-thousand years old,
To be a free nation in our land,
The Land of Zion, Jerusalem.
When Hebrew poet Naftali Herz Imber penned, Hatikvah – The Hope, late in the 19th century, the notion of a free, democratic, Jewish nation-state in the homeland of the Jewish people was a dream. Moreover, he couldn’t conceive that on May 14, 1948 Hatikvah would become Israel’s official national anthem.
This year we celebrate 70 years of Israel’s independence. After 2,000 years of exile and forced diaspora, the people of Israel have returned to the land of Israel; the existence of the State of Israel is the realization of a two millennia-long yearning to return home.
Since the designation of Abraham and Sarah as progenitors of the Jewish people our fates have been tied to the Land of Israel. Their progeny, our ancestors, lived there and over thousands were driven out and repeatedly returned.
Since 1948, Israel welcomed home millions of Jews from across the globe, while simultaneously standing as a bulwark against anti-Semitism internationally and a safe haven for every threatened Jew.
Modern Israel, is a powerhouse of liberal-democracy, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Every citizen of Israel has equal rights regardless of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex or sexual orientation. Israel has had two Arab-Israeli Supreme Court justices, scores of Arab-Israeli parliament members and women (who occupy 47% of Israel’s workforce) have served as prime minister, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and as speaker of the Knesset. Israel has the second highest number of university degrees and has the most scientist and technicians per capita worldwide. Israel has provided agricultural training and research to over 32 nations and has sent disaster assistance to over a dozen nations.
American Jewry’s relationship with Israel has developed in the past decades. During Israel’s founding, the American Jews provided enormous funding to the fledgling state. That funding was essential for purchasing arms and building schools, absorption centers and infrastructure. Yet our relationship with Israel is no longer limited to funding. We now engage regularly in People to People programming (at every age and state in life) with Israelis through our sister-city, Hadera-Eiron through our Partenership2Gether programming.
If you love Israel and are interested in supporting Israel with a gift to our annual campaign, by joining a mission to our homeland or by engaging in exciting Partnerhisp2Gether programming, contact Doni Fogel at DFogel@JewishRichmond.org or call 804-545-8626.
Yom HaAtzmaut Samach – Happy Israel Independence Day!