68 years old! Israeli Independence Day


Raising the Ink Flag at Umm Rashrash (Eilat) By http://www.flickr.com/people/69061470@N05 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Raising the Ink Flag at Umm Rashrash (Eilat) 1948 By http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected] [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback in Israel this week with his sixth grade students

When the Eternal returned us to Zion, we were like dreamers!

בְּשׁוּב ה׳, אֶת-שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן–הָיִינוּ, כְּחֹלְמִים
Psalm 126:1

The State of Israel turns 68 years old this week, and you can feel the joy in the streets of Tel Aviv, where I’m accompanying some of our Wise School sixth-graders on our inaugural visit to our twin-school through a Federation-sponsored partnership.

It’s a time for celebration and thanksgiving. Sitting on the beach in Israel this Yom Ha’atzmaut with the warm Mediterranean waters lapping at my feet, watching Israeli Air Force planes flying overhead in formation, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude: for this extraordinary place, for its amazingly creative and resilient people, for the delicious food I’ve been enjoying all week, for the Hebrew language that gives me so much joy to speak and understand, and for the sense of home I feel whenever I’m here. I am so grateful for all of these blessings.

However, the way we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut reminds us that these blessings come at a steep cost. Israel Independence Day is immediately preceded by Yom HaZikaron – the Day of Remembrance for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

yoshi israelOn Wednesday of this week, I visited the home of a fallen soldier, Eran Berg (ז״ל), who was killed during his army service on February 22, 1994. Each year on Yom HaZikaron, friends and family gather in his parents’ home to remember. It was especially moving to witness his commanding officer visit. Even though the commander no longer serves in the IDF, he comes each year to pay his condolences. He arrived yesterday with his sixteen-year-old son, who is preparing to enter the IDF in just a few years. Our joy is lessened as we think about those whose sacrifice makes our celebration possible. They should be here to rejoice with us…

In our prayer for the State of Israel, we call this extraordinary place “The First Flowering of Our Redemption – רֵאשִׂית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵנוּ.” May it continue to flourish, grow, and develop into all we wish it might be. This is the Hope – the Tikvah – that has animated our dreams for the past 68 years and, indeed, for the previous two millennia as well.

With prayers for peace
and goodness for Israel and for our entire world,

Rabbi Yoshi

P.S. To see photos from our trip, visit me at on my Facebook page

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Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. You can find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.3 million views on her YouTube channel. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed an Olympic swimmer and numerous bestselling authors and has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. She was named both a Top 10 Travel Influencer and a Top 50 Female Influencer for 2021 by Afluencer and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. She has been nominated for the inaugural Forbes 50 over 50/Know Your Value list due out in Summer 2021. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best and has more than 150,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and has also run 15 travel competitions publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on We Said Go Travel. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded two Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. From 2017 to 2021 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won four times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won in 2021 as Book Critic and in 2019 for one of her KTLA TV segments NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards and a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal. Niver has written for National Geographic, USA Today 10best, TODAY, Teen Vogue, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave(ish): It's All About Perspective 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. When she's not SCUBA diving or in her art studio making ceramics, she's helping people find their next dream trip.  http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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