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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Israel Independence Day’

IDF’s Arizona Girl Receives ‘President’s Excellence Award’

Friday, April 19th, 2013

President Shimon Peres last week presented the annual President’s Citation of Excellence to a native of Arizona, 24-year-old lone soldier 2nd Lt. Nira Lee.

She grew up in Tempe, Arizona, in a Zionist household, but she had no intention of making aliyah. Her first trip to Israel was in 2004, when at age 16 she attended a group discovery trip with the B’nei B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO). “At that time, I did not feel a special connection to Israel nor a personal obligation to be here,” 2nd Lt. Lee explained.

On her second trip to Israel, during her first year in university, everything changed. She volunteered on a trip with Hillel to live in Akko and rebuild a school that had been destroyed in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. According to 2nd Lt. Lee, “being in the periphery and not necessarily touring the popular sites of Israel helped show me the different side of Israel. It showed me the people who needed help, and that was the first time I personally felt connected to this country.”

After that experience, 2nd Lt. Lee decided to support Israel from the inside. At the time, she was studying International Relations at AmericanUniversity in WashingtonD.C., and decided to do a test run by studying abroad in Haifa during her third year. “I chose Haifa because I understood it to be a much more authentic environment, one that seems closest to normal life in Israel,” she said.

The test run proved difficult for 2nd Lt. Lee. She knew no Hebrew. She was also overweight and in poor physical health. “I decided that if I wanted to help Israel, I would have to make a few personal changes first,” she said.

In 2008, 2nd Lt. Lee was in Israel when the security situation in Gaza deteriorated and Operation Cast Lead was initiated. The IDF called up reserves, many of whom were friends of 2nd Lt. Lee’s. “Being there during Operation Cast Lead and feeling so futile made me want to enlist in the IDF. Seeing my friends being called up while I remained in the comfort of my dorm room made me want to join them.”

Second Lt. Lee decided there and then that the next time Israel’s citizens would be called to defend the state, she would be among them. Following her year abroad, Nira learned to speak Hebrew fluently and, through personal determination and strength, lost 55 pounds on her path to physical health.

She made aliyah in May 2010 and enlisted as a lone soldier in the IDF five months later. At first, the transition was difficult. “No one knows the difficulties of being a lone soldier,” she said, adding that finding a place to live and setting up her life were great challenges.

Her commanders noticed that she was struggling and made great efforts to help her. “My commanders made it possible for me to have normal soldier concerns, rather than concerns such as where I would sleep that night or if I would have food to put on my plate. Instead of worrying about a place to do my laundry, and ending up washing my clothes in the shower at the base, I was able to focus on the reason I was there: my job in the army,” she said.

She completed the IDF Officers Course in 2011 and became the deputy liaison officer to the international community in the Gaza Strip. She is currently responsible for assisting in foreign access and the transfer of medical supplies into Gaza.

This week, 2nd Lt. Lee will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. She has been in the IDF for almost three years and is signed on for another six months. After completing her military service, she plans to earn a master’s degree in security and diplomacy at TelAvivUniversity.

After she received the President’s Citation of Excellence on Israel’s 65th Independence Day, she said, “It’s a huge honor for me to receive this award. Being a new immigrant, there are certainly times you feel you do not fit in, but the army is the epitome of how this country unites people.”

Israeli College Launches Daniel Pearl School of Journalism

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya launched the Daniel Pearl International Journalism Institute on Wednesday, named for The Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan 11 years ago.

His murderers posted a video of Pearl, before they beheaded him, in which he stated, “I am Jewish.”

Pearl’s father, Prof. Judea Pearl, said he hoped the institute would be a “towering contribution to Danny’s legacy, his life, his mission and his dreams.”

Prof. Pearl this week lit one of the torches in the annual ceremony at the end of Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and the beginning of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Yemenite Chabadnik Paints Gigantic Flag Seen from Jordan (Video)

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Jordanians across from Eilat have a new view of Israel today, hours before the beginning of Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, thanks to the work of Yemenite Chabadnik Roni Pilo who has painted a gigantic flag on an Eilat Navy hangar that covers almost an entire acre.

The display of the flag can be seen clearly from the Jordanian shore and cities across from the Gulf.

Pilo worked for three weeks, day and night, to finish the work in time for Memorial Day on Monday night and Tuesday, followed by Yom Ha’atzmaut.

The idea was the brainchild of Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzchak HaLevi, and work was carried out with the help of contributions from the French Jewish community and Tambour Paint Company, which donated 740 gallons of paint.

Pilo used special techniques to utilize light and shade and mixed six different shades of blue and six hues of white to make the flag display appear as if it is 3-D and moving on the hangar at the Israeli Navy base.

Mayor HaLevi said he came up with the idea to improve the aesthetics of the huge hangar.

He said there was no intention to irritate anyone, especially the Arabs across the waters. “We are not here to annoy anyone,” he said in a statement quoted by the Yediot Acharonot newspaper.

“Wherever the flag can be seen, that is all the better,” he added. “We have no reason to apologize for that. Displaying the flag permanently in Eilat, an international tourist and sports city that hosts 3 million people a year from Israel and the entire world, demonstrates our national pride and love for the country.

Navy base commander Ilan Mintz said, “There is nothing more symbolic the day before Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers…than a strong and loving embrace.”

The base will be open to visitors on Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Daniel Pearl’s Father to Light Day Memorial Flame

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

The father of the late Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl will light one the memorial flames at the Memorial Day Ceremony in Jerusalem, the day before Independence Day.

Pearl was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Pakistan while researching a story on Islamic radicals for The Wall Street Journal.

Nine days after his abduction, Pearl was cruelly beheaded. In a video which released his killers, Pearl was filmed stating, “My name is Daniel Pearl. I’m a Jewish American… My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I’m Jewish”

His father, Prof. Judea Pearl will light the memorial flame at the ceremony that honors the memory of Jews killed in terror attacks and anti-Semitic incidents across the globe, in addition to Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks in Israel.

Daniel Pearl’s wife Marianne, and his son Adam, who was born several months after his father’s murder, also will be present.

Defying Boycotts, Jagger, Stones, to Honor Israel’s 65th Birthday

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Despite a barrage of attacks from British, European and U.S. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) groups, the Rolling Stones will perform their planned concert in Jerusalem on Israel’s Independence Day, Monday, April 15.

“We’ve been slammed and smacked and twittered a lot by the anti-Israeli side,” said Mick Jagger, the band’s leader and most recognizable member since 1963. “All I can say is: anything worth doing is worth overdoing. So we decided to add a concert on Tuesday.”

Needless to say, tickets to both concerts, Monday night in Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem and Tuesday night in Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv, have been sold out even as Jagger was speaking.

“This is a huge mistake for the Stones,” declared BDS proponent Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb. “They stand to lose a lot of money as a result of showing solidarity with Zionism, because their most devoted fans also support boycotting Israel.”

“I don’t really count myself as a very sophisticated businessperson,” Jagger responded when asked if the Israel concerts are a bad move business wise. “I’m a creative artist. All I know from business I’ve picked up along the way.”

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood will all arrive in Jerusalem on Thursday, ahead of their opening concert, to meet President Shimon Peres who says he’s been a stoner for ages.

“When ‘Get Off of My Cloud’ came out, Dayan brought me the single from London,” Peres told Haaretz. “We played it for hours in the office until Paula Ben Gurion threatened to throw us out.”

David Ben Gurion’s wife, Paula, was a Kinks fan.

This has been a Purim prank…

In a Bizarro World, Ultra Orthodox Cult Keeps Anti-Independence Day

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

In the neighborhood of Meah She’arim, stronghold of the vehemently anti-Zionist sect of Neturei Karta, Israel’s Independence Day is traditionally kept as the inverse of the country’s national celebrations.

Many ads of all sizes have been posted around the neighborhood in recent days, in preparation for the anti-holiday. Nearly all of them are calling for prayer vigils and fasting on “The day the State of Israel and Zionism came into being.”

The website BeHadrei Haredim cites an ad signed by Neturei Karta, that says: “It has been sixty-four years of extreme taunts and reviling. Every day they taunt and revile at the heavens, crying ‘Who is there for me in Heaven.’ Even today, their desire is burning in their heart as they’re about to celebrate their day of independence, and raise their national flag to commemorate their festival, to immortalize their Zionist idol.”

The organizers are planning public mourning events on Thursday, in 18 synagogues across the country and around the world, in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak, Monsey, and Williamsburg.

The Jerusalem procession will meet at Mea Shearim square, and then march through the streets of the city “clad in sackcloth.”

A Time Of Sadness And Joy, A Time To Remember

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011


This time of year in Israel is a time of sadness and a time of joy. We commemorate the murder of six million Jews in Nazi Europe and we commemorate the deaths of our children in times of war and the terrorist murders of our people during periods of “peace.” When our sadness reaches a crescendo as the sun sets on Memorial Day, we pause, raise our flag from half mast to its highest height, and joyfully begin to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.

 

These past weeks have given us much to be thankful for. The execution of Osama Bin Laden, yemach shemo v’zichro, was a victory for the entire free world. The reticence of President Obama to release the photos of Osama Bin Laden is hard to believe, especially when the photos of those he murdered are always publicized. This fear of the Arab reaction is embarrassing to most Americans. As one friend commented on Facebook, “What an upside-down world we live in. The photos of a family slaughtered in their sleep and a baby decapitated were released and not even a sneeze was heard from the world. But G-d forbid they should make public the photos of a murdering evil Arab hate monger, and the world will be up in arms. G-d help us.” Another friend commented, “The world at large is afraid to stand up to the Muslim extremists, and this just gives them more power by making a media mountain about the photo. Al Qaeda didn’t need a photo to incite them to blow up the Twin-Towers, or to carry out any other suicide bombing mission. I couldn’t care less about the actual picture – it’s just the sentiment behind it.”

 

The fact that Hashem delivered Osama Bin Laden close to Holocaust Memorial Day was noted by our yishuv rabbi. Rabbi Auerbach did not mince any words at the Holocaust Memorial ceremony when he spoke, and he made clear how we should react. “When I was a child,” he explained, “children never went to cemeteries. Children were meant to play and enjoy and were considered out of place at a funeral. The Nazis, by murdering more than a million Jewish children, changed this. We must remember the Holocaust with our children, but maybe we should also ask their forgiveness because springtime is such a beautiful time of year in Israel, and we should not burden them with such painful experiences.”

 

The rabbi went on to explain that we must remember, and we are not permitted to forget. “Six million Jews were butchered by the Germans and their willing helpers from other nations. This most sophisticated and cultured nation in the world viciously murdered the weak Jewish people of Europe.” The rabbi quoted the sentence from Ha’azinu (32:43) telling us to rejoice when Hashem renders vengeance “for the land and for His people.” Our hearts must be filled with joy whether Hashem sends an earthquake, a financial crisis, a Tsunami or any other special punishment against evil doers. It is proper to rejoice when evil ones are punished.

 

Holocaust Memorial Day should fill us with a great love for our fellow Jews and we should be very grateful towards those non-Jews who saved Jews during that dark and terrible time. We should honor those who survived, especially those who came to live in Israel to build the land and fight for freedom. The rabbi recalled the story of Noach, who, despite being a righteous person, after the destruction of his community, drank himself into a stupor because almost every one of his friends and family had been lost in the flood. We would have understood it if the Holocaust survivors had withdrawn from society, and filled their bodies with drink and drugs. Instead, these survivors who came to Israel were great heroes. Despite being alone and depressed, they did not drink or take drugs or run away. They lifted themselves up, built up the land and were a driving force in the birth and success of Israel. They were driven to build and to repopulate and to never lose hope. We, too, will never lose faith. We will rise up and continue to build all of our land, and we will gather the exiles of our people and hopefully will witness the rebuilding of all of Jerusalem in our time.

 

We pray that the Jewish people will experience a complete redemption in the very near future.

 

As I do each year, if you are interested in receiving a copy of the prayers for the State of Israel and for Israel’s soldiers, please send me a request containing a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Jewish Press (or an e-mail to me to receive e-mail copies).

 

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

It’s My Opinion: Celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

            Reading through one of our local Jewish newspapers, I was delighted to see a full-page advertisement publicizing a celebration for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day.  The 62nd anniversary of the resurgence of the Jewish State is certainly worthy of a party.  In fact, after 2,000 years of bloodstained exile, it is an incredible, modern-day wonder.

 

A local supper club in Aventura, Florida was organizing the event.  Live music would be provided.  Two Israeli singers were scheduled to perform.  The evening seemed to be planned as a gala affair.

 

My eyes scrolled down the page and then stopped.  I was horrified to see the rest of the agenda for the evening.  A “Hot Bikini Contest” was proudly touted as part of the festive program. And to think the hot debate in many communities is whether or not to say Hallel on this special day.

 

One does not have to be a haredi rabbi to understand that a competition like the one planned to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut was unsuitable.  A bikini contest is a totally inappropriate way to observe the commemoration of such a miraculous time in Jewish history.  In fact it was bizarre. 

 

This lack of insight to the fundamental order of life is quite disturbing.  What is wrong with people who are so out of sync with the basic concept of appropriate boundaries? Unfortunately, this behavior is endemic to a segment of secular culture.  It is a tragic problem.

 

Certainly, those who organized the Independence Day program meant no harm.  They simply wanted to create a happy and upbeat party atmosphere.    Nonetheless, we are once again reminded of the truth of the adage, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/its-my-opinion-celebrating-yom-haatzmaut/2010/04/21/

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