“Israel was not created in order to disappear—Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy, and it honours the sword of freedom.” President John F. Kennedy
Tuesday marks the momentous occasion of the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel, a modern-day miracle. This past week, our community held the annual Yom HaShoah ceremony in honour of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, the survivors, and the commitment to Never Forget, Never Again. Establishing the State of Israel in 1948, the only Jewish state in the world, accomplished a 2,000-year-old desire for many Jews who finally had the choice of coming back to our historic ancestral homeland.
While we may not all always agree on the internal politics or issues of the day, we can all, as a Jewish people, bask in with pride and delight the amazing accomplishments of this small nation. It is the only democracy in the Middle East and a place with only 0.11% of the global population and yet has extraordinary achievements unmatched by any other nation. Israel has been a leading pioneer in innovation and technology for a long time and consistently ranks among the top 10 most progressive countries in the world according to Bloomberg. It has the greatest quantity of start-up businesses on the planet and ranks first globally in digital education. The country developed irrigation catchment systems to make the arid desert bloom over half a century ago. There are an extensive number of Israeli Nobel Prize winners. Its technological innovations in agriculture have helped improve agricultural yields and longevity of crops in Africa and Asia. Israel is among seven nations that have successfully orbited the moon.
While in recent weeks, judicial reforms and the demonstrations in Israel have raised alarms about the future of Israeli democracy, we make note that these rallies showed the liberty of individuals to raise their voices. We saw Israelis waving flags and rallying for Zionism to influence politics through the democratic right to assemble and protest. As the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, we are an umbrella for all Jewish people in our community. We welcome and will continue to engage in dialogue with all our stakeholders on both sides of these matters. We are committed to being the bridge in our tiny, vibrant, and diverse Jewish community.
For 100 years, worldwide Jewish investment has worked generation after generation to create and bolster the growth of the State of Israel through construction of infrastructure, protecting the country’s most vulnerable citizens, and supporting Aliyah and absorption of immigrants. Through the United Jewish Appeal campaign and programs like the Edmonton Jewish Film Festival, our community has supported these areas and given directly to the people and capacity-building projects in our partner region, the Etzbah HaGalil.
The name “Israel” means “one who struggles with G-d.” The renaming of Jacob to Israel in the Torah symbolized his spiritual transformation and reflects the profound bond of the Judaic individuals to their biblical and historical origins and their endurance as a people and a country. As a community, we invite you to celebrate our connection as Jewish people to each other and the land of Israel with three Federation events this coming week. On Yom HaZikaron (Monday, April 24) our community gathers in a ceremony to honour the fallen soldiers and victims of terror. We will rejoice over the anniversary of Israel with a family event on Sunday and an evening concert featuring Israeli artists on Tuesday to honour Israel. Countless hours of planning and work have been put into these occasions by our dedicated volunteers and organizing committee. We are grateful for their exceptional effort and devotion to recognizing Israel as National Volunteer Week draws to a close.
We are proud to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Israeli and celebrate our unique relationship with Israel.
Am Israel Chai and Shabbat shalom,
Steve and Adam