Happy Birthday Israel!
Sitting here writing this, while scrolling through headline after headline, looking at picture after picture and video after video of what is happening back home, it’s scary (petrifying even) but also empowering to an extent. Jews have always faced some sort of persecution or attack and yet we are still here, and not only are we here but we are celebrating 71 years of Independence.
Yom Ha’atzmaut, Day of Independence, a day of celebration and pride. A day of for Israel. And the thousands of Jews who live in the UK and the millions that live across the globe. It is a day for anybody that has a connection with Israel, whether it be religious orcultural, to celebrate and to come together. To don their blues and (mostly) whites, to drink, eat, listen to as much music as possibleas loud as possible (for me that means some Lior Narkis or DuduAharon). From night-long white parties to the BBQs to the street and house parties that follow it really is a day of celebration.
For me personally, leaving Israel at a young age, didn’t lessen my connection to what I will always call “my home”. Despite living in Prague, Czech Republic for most of my life I still very much consider myself Israeli. I grew up in very much a typical Jewish Ashkenazi home (albeit quite secular) and would go visit my family in Haifa and Tel-Aviv at least twice a year. Nothing can beat the rush I feel as soon as the airplane touches down in Ben-Gurion Airport (נתב״ג) and the cabin erupts into applause. And although I cannot be home to celebrate its birthday its so amazing to know that you can truly be anywhere and know there are people who will celebrate with you.
In my second year at university I went to Manchester for a Yom Ha’atzmaut dinner and it was honestly one of the highlights of my year. With great music, food and company (and alcohol) what more could I ask for? Unfortunately, this year I may celebrate only with one drink (currently revising for my exams), its heart-warming to know that thousands will be celebrating as well. I am truly so excited to be working for UJS next year and hopefully return to Israel on their behalf, and hopefully see Israel in a new way. But also never forgetting that feeling of ‘coming home’ and knowing that this place was built on hope, dreams and a promise to the Jewish people.
So I hope you all enjoy, have an amazing day (and night) but I ask that as you do you also take some time to remember the roots and reason behind this day of celebration. This day falls a mere few days after Yom Hashoah and just a day after Yom Hazikaron. So let us celebrate, enjoy, be proud but also reflect and always remember.
Shiri Wolff, incoming UJS Sabbatical Officer