Experiencing Israel on its 70th anniversary


Just a few weeks ago Lynn and I, together with a group of 39 people from Congregation Sinai and Temple Israel, had the pleasure of being in Israel for the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the Jewish state. Yom Ha Zikaron (Remembrance Day) began for our group the evening of April 17 with a gathering of many thousands of Israelis at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. El Maale Rachamim and Kaddish were said along with music selections appropriate for the occasion being performed and televised throughout the country. Sirens sounded in every city and town at 8 p.m. and 11 a.m. When the sirens were sounded everyone stopped their activities, cars pulled to the side of the street and people stood still for a few minutes to remember the sacrifice made by Jewish IDF soldiers from 1948 to the present. We also attended a memorial service the following day at Latrun; an armored corps museum between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Again the mood was somber and respectful. Later that day our group entered Jerusalem and made our way to the Western Wall where many of us experienced the site for the first time. Needless to say it was a very moving time.

As evening fell the mood changed almost magically from somber to celebratory as the nation passed from Remembrance Day to Yom Ha‘atzmaut (Independence Day). People poured into the streets to celebrate as if we were at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. A number of musical performance stages were built for the occasion throughout Jerusalem, one of them being just outside our hotel. On that stage was a large wall of speakers and the party began at approximately 9 p.m., lasting until about 3 a.m. We did not get much sleep that night.

I could go on, but one of the most moving events was when we gathered in the synagogue at Yad Vashem after touring the museum. A representative of the museum met our group to receive a donation from our synagogue, Congregation Sinai and from Temple Israel of DeLand. The representative spoke for a few minutes and then received our gifts. We then took the opportunity to pray as we were in a synagogue and it seemed the right moment.

Lynn and I have been to Israel many times in many different ways in the last 20 years. This trip was extra special not only because of the 70th anniversary of the Independence of Israel, but because of our fellow congregants travelling with us. We thank you for a most special and meaningful trip to our Jewish Homeland. May God bless each of us abundantly.

Join our next trip to Israel in March of 2019. Call for information. 386-668-4558.

Joe Goldovitz is the spiritual leader at Congregation Sinai.


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