Israel’s 76th Independence Day

Today is Israel’s 76th Independence Day. Although the past year has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging that the country has experienced since its founding, we must not forget for a moment that there is something to be happy about and celebrate: We were privileged to live and experience the fulfillment of the multi-generational dream of dozens of generations of Jews in the Diaspora, who yearnd for Jewish sovereignty in our land. Our country is strong, branched and diverse – and an absolute majority of Israeli citizens would prefer to live here and accept the exciting life experience it offers, rather than any other alternative. After all, this is one of the most fascinating and interesting stories in human history.

The celebrations began last night at the torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl. The ceremony was held in the shadow of the war, and this is evident in three aspects – first, since the ceremony was recorded in advance, in light of the fear of alarm disorders, the limited time of the elected officials, and the desire to avoid the security headache; Second, in the content of the speeches that were delivered. Prime Minister Netanyahu compared the War of Independence with the current war, promising that “we will bring everyone home, the living and the dead alike.” The Knesset Speaker Ohana also referred to the war, and to the order of the hour – unity. “Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will have to meet at the gate of the valley (Sha’ar Hagay).”

The third aspect are the lighters of the twelve beacons – unlike previous years, this time each beacon was carried out by a number of people, 44 in total. All the lighters were related to the war and to impressive actions that were expressed during it – whether they were fighters, rescuers, helpers, doctors, advocates and more. One beacon was missing and not lit – to the memory of the hostages, who are still in the Gaza Strip.

this morning, a ceremony is expected to take place at the President’s House, where President Herzog will award honors to 120 soldiers – all who fought in the last war. Later in the day, the Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth in Jerusalem is expected to take place, one of the old traditions of the holiday; and in the evening the Israel Prize Ceremony will take place in Sderot (which was almost canceled a few months ago for various reasons). The future may be more uncertain than usual, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be happy with what we already have.

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