Yom HaAtzmaut in Israel

Last night and today, Am Yisrael celebrates Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel Independence Day. Although I am participating in a conference with Cardinals and Bishops in Tevaria, the special nature of the day has not been lost. Bishops wish me, “Chag Sameach,” with blessings that I should enjoy my “Feast of Independence.”

Last night I decided to see how the city of Tevaria (the conference is being held nearby) celebrates Yom HaAtzmaut. Not knowing where to go or what to do, I jumped in a taxi and simply asked, “Take me to where the celebrations are going on.” We arrived a few minutes later in the center of town where the streets were closed and the entire town square was full of thousands of people celebrating our 69th year of independence.  Children were running around blowing bubbles and twirling coloured lights, while their parents listened to live concerts and feasted on Israel’s national food – barbeque. I stood there soaking up the energy and the excitement of the most resilient nation in the world. Even when there are countless enemies out there who threaten to wipe us out, the people know how to appreciate and celebrate what they have – a homeland.

In Montreal each year we have our own special celebrations. Evening events with Kollel Torah Mitzion and a community rally at Philips Square. At Beth Zion, during our services this morning we recited the Hallel prayer, recognizing the miracle of having or own country. What an honour it was this morning to recite Hallel in the place that we in Montreal focus our celebrations and prayers towards.

I will write more lately about the amazing ecumenical conference I am attending; however for now I want to wish everyone a Chag Sameach! May we have the opportunity one day to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut together in Israel.

Am Yisrael Chai!


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