Time to celebrate

April 9, 2018

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David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, publicly read the Declaration of Independence of Israel on May 14, 1948. The anniversary of this date on the Jewish calendar is known as Yom Ha’atzmaut, and this year is Thursday, April 19.

As the Tidewater Jewish community prepares to celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day with myriad events, including a special Israel Fest on Sunday, April 22 (see page 16), we have devoted the majority of this issue to all things Israel. Not surprisingly, the most difficult part of this task was the limitation of too few pages, as Israel has been an integral part of this community even before its founding, and the country’s medical and technological advancements, culture, food (let’s not forget the cherry tomato!), and wine are remarkable for such a young country.

First, our Hal Sacks Jewish News Archives column on page 5 is all Israel. Whether an Israeli Merchant Marine speaking to teens at the JCC in 1958 or annual festivals celebrating the Jewish state’s Independence Day, there’s plenty to learn about Jewish Tidewater and Israel from our archives. To browse or search the Hal Sacks Jewish News Archives, go to jewishnewsva.org and click on archives.

Articles about tech research, medical assistance, and even Google pranks that show the diverse interests, talents, and humor of Israelis are throughout the paper, as well as, of course, are a few pieces on politics and history. Plus, Bobbie Fisher writes about what was taking place in Jewish Tidewater 70 years ago.

What I imagine will be the most read in the Israel@70 section, however, are the personal stories about trips to Israel. How such a tiny and young nation can yield such vastly different experiences is really remarkable. From traveling to Israel in the early 1960s to working in banana fields to running the Tel Aviv Marathon to making aliyah, the stories are interesting, inspiring, fun, and revealing. You might be surprised to learn, for example, which area attorney spent a summer pulling in fish on the Sea of Galilee, and who witnessed a peace treaty being worked out in the King David Hotel dining room.

As I mentioned earlier, our biggest problem for this issue was space. And, so, we’ve decided to take advantage of the dual dates of Israel’s Independence and continue to highlight the nation through articles on its culture, innovation, and position in the world, as well as to share additional personal memories in our next couple of issues.

While it is easy to get mired down in the battles and controversies that Israel faces each day, our focus here is celebrations, not politics. To Life! To Israel!

- Terri Denison, Editor

Letter to the Editor