Israel at 75: The Sun is Shining (2023)

As Israel miraculously approaches its 75th Independence Day, too many people seem to be focused on overhead clouds instead of the shining sun. Fixated on the troubles within Israel’s borders and the dangers beyond them instead of the brilliance bursting forth from the nation of Israel in realms galore.

To this I say, beshaat chedveta, chedveta! At times of rejoicing, rejoice! (And at times of sorrow, be sorrowful, beshaat avla, avla.) This was the response given by the fourth generation Mishnaic sage Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korcha to a non-Jew who challenged him with a theological question about G-d regretting creation of the world.


This also was the answer of the late, great Rabbi Yehuda Amital to his students in Yeshivat Har Etzion on Israel’s 55th Independence Day in 2002 (Yom Haatzmaut 5763), following 18 months of bloody terror attacks that left more than 100 Israelis dead. Beshaat chedveta, chedveta; beshaat avla, avla. Or to paraphrase Ecclesiastes (3:4), there is a time to rejoice, and a time to weep.

So, at this time of rejoicing, let us count our personal and national blessings. Life in Israel is full of meaning and delight – adorned by sacrifice, commitment, achievement, and joy; the crucial ingredients that make life satisfying and exciting, and uniquely so for Jews who have long awaited a national return to Zion.

Let us remind ourselves that, until 75 years ago and for the last 2,000 years, the Jewish People had no national home. Instead, it suffered Diaspora, dispersion, degradation, and disaffiliation, even near-extermination.

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Alas, attempts to annihilate the Jewish People in Israel (threats that come primarily from Iran) and to persecute them abroad continue apace, but the People of Israel are no longer defenseless.

In fact, in aggregate Israel is stronger than any of its enemies; stronger than all its enemies combined. Major military threats to Israel have diminished as Arab societies and armies crumble across the Middle East. And the Abraham Accords have wrought a tectonic change for the better in the regional strategic infrastructure.

My net assessment is that Israel is winning on all battlefronts, even though there are inevitable conflicts ahead. Neither the perpetual Palestinian conundrum, nor the Iranian threat to Israel, nor the unstable regional situation – dim my optimism.

And Israel’s hand remains outstretched for peace, whenever its adversaries are truly ready for a levelheaded settlement.

Moreover, Israel’s dramatic drive to succeed in all aspects of life continues relentlessly, despite the many current and looming challenges, with spectacular results: Outstanding science and top-notch technology; excellent doctors and in most cases first-class health care; elevated levels of Torah study; and yes, vibrant democracy.

Israel also enjoys a strong currency; massive foreign investment; innovative water desalinization and natural gas solutions; multiple humanitarian commitments abroad; continuing (although slow) Aliyah and immigrant absorption; and most of all, sensational youth activism and undimmed patriotism.

Soft power attacks on Israel – things like international campaigns to divest from Israel and to sanction Israel – mostly have fallen flat. In fact, the Chinese, Indians, Moroccans, Gulf Arab businessmen and investors, and even Europeans are lining up to buy Israeli technologies, not to boycott them.

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Furthermore, and perhaps most important of all, Israelis are neither crushed nor dispirited by their challenges. They remain quite resilient and motivated to build an even better future. And this gives Israel fortitude for the long haul ahead.

Indeed, this month’s Yom Haatzmaut polls affirm the optimism and patriotism of Israelis. A vast majority of Israelis believe that the country’s successes outweigh its failures. The current controversies over judicial reform, haredi military draft, religion and state, and more, have rattled elements of national solidarity, but I believe that this is reparable.

I do not buy into the current doomsday discourse about irreparable depredations in Israel’s democratic moorings. It is neither accurate nor wise. Israel is far haler and heartier than the worked-into-a-frenzy judicial reform activists and protestors would have us believe. Political compromise, and societal calm, is possible, even though disagreements will persist.

So, despite apocalyptic agonizers, overwrought friends, boycotters, and detractors – I still sense that the Heavens are shining, not collapsing, upon Israel.

ISRAEL ALSO IS, more than ever, a nation of believers. A renaissance of Jewish identity is underway, which can be heard in the verses of prayer in popular music, seen in outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat celebrations at public entertainment spaces, and felt in all-night Torah study sessions on Shavuot – even in Tel Aviv.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics 80% ofchilonim(secular Israelis) believe in “the G-d of Israel.” Eighty percent! In my view, this means that 80% (of the 40% of Israelis who define themselves as secular) are not truly secular. They believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They believe in Divine providence over the Jewish People and a Divine presence in Jewish history.

When you add to the mix the 20% of Israelis who call themselves dati(religious) andharedi(ultra-orthodox), and the 40% of Israelis who describe themselves asdati-masortiormasorti(religious-traditional or traditional), this means that Israel is a deeply believing nation.

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In other words, while not everybody practices traditional Judaism, just about everybody in Israel religiously senses that this nation is on a grand meta-historic journey which is connected to spiritual powers and moral heritage invested in the Jewish People. These assets have sustained Jews through the centuries and brought them home to the Land of Israel.

THIS BELIEF IN the power of Jewish history animated by ancient faith explains much about Israel today. It explains the willingness of Israelis to sacrifice for independence. It explains their drive to succeed in the arts and sciences and to share their advances with the world. It explains their resolute attachment to Jerusalem.

It explains why Israeli leaders sometimes stubbornly refuse to accept rational calculations of diplomatic cost/benefit that are politely (and sometimes impolitely) impressed on them by allies. It explains why Israelis can shake-off the bleak and sinister prognostications advanced by both friends and enemies.

It explains why those who consider history only in terms of national politics and international relations underestimate or misjudge Israel. They apply temporal yardsticks of measurement to Israel but fail to fathom the processes at work behind the curtain of current affairs.

They are confused by Israel’s deep sense of historical mission, which blurs the lines between imagination and reality, between the possible and the feasible. They fail to understand that Israel is guided by an astral calculus that is not always perceptible.

As Ambassador Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Herzog (1921-1972) said, “In the sweep of history, there have been greater battles, larger transfers and emigrations of populations, bigger construction and technological projects, more eminently impressive displays of might. So, in secular terms, Israel is not that big a deal.”

“But as vindication of spirit, as validation of tenacious faith, as proof of the Jewish People’sright of return to its indigenous home, Israel’s establishment and advancement is a very big deal indeed.”

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Herzog: “History knows no parallel to the prophecies of the Bible, which foretold the break-up of a people into a thousand pieces across the world yet destined to persevere for centuries and return to their indigenous homeland. This is a defy-all-odds saga of metaphysical union spanning centuries between a people, their G-d, and a land.”

“This is the celebration of a nation, who at the moment of ultimate nadir, of devastating Holocaust, rose from the ashes, armed with little more than conviction and a historical consciousness that promised renewal, to stake claim to their ancestry. This is redemption, providential consolation.”

THE REDEEMED WORLD described by Isaiah is not yet upon us. But that just means Israelis must work harder to create it.

On Yom Haatzmaut 5759 (1999) Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein told his students (also in Yeshivat Har Etzion) that it was up to them to ensure that the framework for national renaissance created in the State of Israel would be “vibrant, value-driven, and meaningful,” less it become, God forbid, “fossilized and hollow, an outer shell without inner content.”

Quoting Psalms 22:32, “They shall come and tell His righteousness to a born nation,” he said that “We need to have a feeling of destiny, of mission, of individual holiness and national holiness… We must create our state not only as a national, political, sovereign, civic entity, but as an entity rooted in (redemption from) Egypt and Sinai, in the Torah of the prophets, in the ideology of the sages – a nation born with faith and values. We must birth it, we must accompany it, we must shape it, and we must build it.”

“It is this task that should animate us, as we ‘tell His righteousness’ in giving us the State of Israel.”


What is the meaning of Yom Haatzmaut? ›

Yom Haatzmaut is Israeli Independence Day, a day of great celebration held every year in late April or early May – on the day (in the Hebrew calendar) which, in 1948, Israel declared its independence.

What happened on Yom Haatzmaut? ›

Israel's Independence Day is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, which is the Hebrew date of the formal establishment of the State of Israel, when members of the “provisional government” read and signed a Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv.

When did the US recognize Israel? ›

The United States was the first country to recognize Israel as an independent state on May 14, 1948, when President Harry Truman issued a statement of recognition following Israel's proclamation of independence on the same date.

How old is Israel in 2023? ›

Israel celebrates 75 years of statehood in spring 2023. At its wellspring is 3,000-plus years of Jewish peoplehood.

What to do on Yom Haatzmaut in Israel? ›

In addition to the official ceremonies, Israelis celebrate Yom Haatzmaut by attending public shows across the country with leading Israeli singers and fireworks. The streets in the area are closed and Israelis sing and dance in the streets.

What do Arabs call Yom Haatzmaut? ›

While some Israeli Arabs celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut, others regard it as a tragic day in their history referred to as Nakba ("the catastrophe")As early as 1949, and officially since a 1998 proclamation by Yasser Arafat, May 15 was commemorated as Nakba Day.

What is the origin of Yom HaAtzmaut? ›

Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) marks the anniversary of the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. It is observed on or near the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar on the Jewish calendar, which usually falls in April. It is preceded by Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day).

Is Yom HaAtzmaut a religious holiday? ›

Because it celebrates a recent historical event, this is one of a handful of Jewish holidays without a basis in ancient Jewish religious texts. There are no religious restrictions, as there are with some other Jewish holidays. Yom Ha'atzma'ut is often celebrated with parades, lectures, Israeli food and dancing.

Who lived in Israel first? ›

The oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans found outside Africa are the Skhul and Qafzeh hominids, who lived in northern Israel 120,000 years ago. Around 10th millennium BCE, the Natufian culture existed in the area.

Which countries do not accept Israel as a state? ›

(Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen do not recognise Israel as a state.) (Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan do not recognise Israel as a state.) (None of these countries recognise Israel.)

Is the USA a friend of Israel? ›

The United States and Israel are strong partners and friends. Americans and Israelis are united by our shared commitment to democracy, economic prosperity, and regional security. Our partnership has never been stronger.

What is the golden age of Israel? ›

Golden age

1000 to 961 BCE. Some modern archaeologists, however, believe that the two distinct cultures and geographic entities of Judah and Israel continued uninterrupted, and if a political union between them existed, it might have had no practical effect on their relationship.

What is the average living age in Israel? ›

The current life expectancy for Israel in 2023 is 83.49 years, a 0.18% increase from 2022. The life expectancy for Israel in 2022 was 83.34 years, a 0.18% increase from 2021. The life expectancy for Israel in 2021 was 83.19 years, a 0.18% increase from 2020.

Who was the youngest of Israel? ›

The twelve sons form the basis for the twelve tribes of Israel, listed in the order from oldest to youngest: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.

What is the most important day of Israel? ›

Amir: So the most important date for Israel is [יום העצמאות] (Yom ha'ats'ma'ut), the Israeli Independence Day. Shira: And it's preceded by [יום הזכרון] (Yom ha'zi'ka'ron), Remembrance Day, another extremely important date for Israelis. Amir: And because these two dates complement each other, we've paired them together.

What is the birthday tradition in Israel? ›

Child Birthdays in Israel

Birthday parties with close family and friends all the way to elaborate parties are thrown in honor of the birthday boy or girl. Some more conservative religious Jews do not celebrate birthdays for their children due to it being seen as an Egyptian practice.

Who did Israel gain independence from? ›

The British controlled Palestine until Israel, in the years following the end of World War II, became an independent state in 1947.

What are Arabs in Israel called? ›

In Arabic, commonly used terms to refer to Israel's Arab population include 48-Arab (عرب 48, Arab Thamaniya Wa-Arba'in) and 48-Palestinian (فلسطينيو 48, Filastiniyyū Thamaniya Wa-Arba'in). Since the Nakba, the Palestinians that have remained within Israel's 1948 borders have been colloquially known as "48-Arabs".

Why did Arabs invade Israel? ›

The goal of the Arabs was initially to block the Partition Resolution and to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state. The Jews, on the other hand, hoped to gain control over the territory allotted to them under the Partition Plan.

What was Tel Aviv original Arabic name? ›

The town was originally named Ahuzat Bayit. On 21 May 1910, the name Tel Aviv was adopted.

What are Israel greetings? ›

The most common greeting and parting phrase in Hebrew is “Shalom” (Peace). “Shalom' may be followed by the casual greetings of “Ma nishma” (What's up?) or “Ma koreh” (What's happening?). Some people may use the more formal “Ma shlomcha” (for men) or “Ma shlomech” (for women), which means 'How are you?

Does the UK recognize Israel? ›

However, the UK recognised Israel de facto on 13 May 1949, and de jure on 28 April 1950. Sir Alexander Knox Helm was the first British Chargé d'Affaires in Israel, whose rank was later raised to Minister, serving from 1949 to 1951. He was succeeded in 1951 by Francis Evans, whose rank was raised to Ambassador in 1952.

What do Palestinians call Israel's Independence Day of 1948? ›

It is generally commemorated on 15 May, the Gregorian calendar date of the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.
Nakba Day
Related toYom Ha'atzmaut
4 more rows

Who controlled Israel before 1917? ›

In 1517, the Ottoman Empire conquered the region, ruling it until the British conquered it in 1917. The region was ruled under the British Mandate for Palestine until 1948, when the Jewish State of Israel was proclaimed in part of the ancient land of Israel.

When did Israel declare itself a country? ›

At midnight on May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed a new State of Israel.

When did Palestine declare independence from Israel? ›

On November 15, 1988, the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), met in Algeria to adopt a declaration of independence and proclaimed an independent State of Palestine in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

What do you eat on Yom HaAtzmaut? ›

Israelis love to celebrate Independence Day with a good barbecue out in nature. Usually on the menu are steak, chicken wings, boneless chicken thighs, ground lamb kebabs, hummus and salads. And don't you dare forget the charred eggplant, made whole on the grill, and the newly in season sweet watermelon.

What do you wear on Yom HaAtzmaut? ›

It is customary to wear a white top and dark pants or skirt to a Yom HaZikaron ceremony. Yom HaAtzmaut celebrates the formal establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 (that year, the 5th of Iyar corresponded to May 14). Celebrations include Israeli dancing, singing, and other joyous festivities (often outdoors).

What food is Israel Independence Day? ›

What do Israelis traditionally eat to celebrate Independence Day? Most Israelis have a barbecue type of meal and celebration. People go out to the parks, take simple barbecue grills and they grill meats.

What was Israel originally called? ›

In the first century, when the Jewish civilization in Israel was already over 1,000 years old, Rome destroyed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and conquered the Jewish nation. At this time, the Romans renamed the region “Palestine” and exiled a portion of the population. However, some Jews remained.

Who lived in Palestine before Israel? ›

Palestine's Early Roots

Throughout history, Palestine has been ruled by numerous groups, including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Egyptians and Mamelukes. From about 1517 to 1917, the Ottoman Empire ruled much of the region.

What does Israel mean in Hebrew? ›

Word/name. Hebrew. Meaning. 'God Contended', 'Wrestles with God', 'Triumphant with God'

What makes Israel so powerful? ›

“For its relatively small size, the country has played a large role in global affairs,” it said. “The country has a strong economy, landmarks of significance to several religions, and strained relationships with many of its Arab neighbors.”

Does China Recognise Israel? ›

Relations were established in 1961, but severed on 28 November 1972. In 2005, reports emerged of a mutual intention to renew diplomatic relations. Relations restored on 20 January 2019. The Republic of China granted de jure recognition to Israel on 1 March 1949.

Why does North Korea not recognize Israel? ›

Israel and North Korea do not have official diplomatic relations, and unofficial communications between the two countries are hostile. North Korea does not recognise Israel, denouncing it as an "imperialist satellite state".

Where does Israel get its money? ›

Economy of Israel
Ease-of-doing-business rank35th (very easy, 2020)
Exports$166 billion (2022 est.)
Export goodsCut diamonds, refined petroleum, pharmaceuticals, machinery and equipment, medical instruments, computer hardware and software, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel.
33 more rows

Do the US and Israel have a good relationship? ›


The U.S.-Israel economic and commercial relationship is strong, anchored by an annual bilateral trade of nearly $50 billion in goods and services. Several treaties and agreements, including the 1985 U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA), solidify bilateral economic relations.

Why did the US recognize Israel? ›

The statement, which became known as the Balfour Declaration, was, in part, payment to the Jewish people for their support of the British against the Turks during World War I.

What happened every seven years in Israel? ›

The Bible is pretty clear. God told Moses on Mount Sinai that every seven years the land of Israel must lay fallow and Jews are forbidden to work it.

Who was the first born of Israel? ›

In Joseph and Asenath the converted Egyptian princess Asenath prepares to marry Joseph, the prototokos "firstborn" of the god of Israel.

Why did God split the Kingdom of Israel? ›

As prophesied by Ahijah (1 Kings 11:31-35), the house of Israel was divided into two kingdoms. This division, which took place approximately 975 B.C., after the death of Solomon and during the reign of his son, Rehoboam, came about as the people revolted against heavy taxes levied by Solomon and Rehoboam.

What is Israel's average income? ›

Already a member? Average monthly wage at current prices. Currency conversion rate on: 27/10/2022.
Average monthly wage in Israel from January 2022 to July 2022 (in Israeli shekels)
CharacteristicAverage monthly wage in Israeli shekels
Apr 202212,041
Mar 202212,670
Feb 202211,991
Jan 202211,761
3 more rows
Dec 6, 2022

Why is Israel so expensive to live? ›

An expensive and unequal country. Analysts tend to agree that Israel, with 9.5 million inhabitants, is so expensive because some sectors function as oligopolies, due to protectionist policies inherited from the country's socialist origins which make imports difficult and increase prices.

Why is Israel life expectancy so high? ›

One of the key factors responsible for Israel's high life expectancy is mandatory military service. This alone adds more than three years to life expectancy in Israel. This chapter has six main sections. First, a number of “baseline” factors that are known to affect mortality will be identified.

What tribe of Israel was Jesus from? ›

Tribe of Judah - Wikipedia.

How old was Rachel in the Bible when she had a baby? ›

The midrash relates that Rachel was twenty-two years old when she was married to Jacob (Seder Olam Rabbah 2), and her barrenness lasted for fourteen years (Seder Eliyahu Rabbah 18, p. 99). The Rabbis understand the wording (Gen.

How old was Joseph when he died? ›

Is Yom Haatzmaut a religious holiday? ›

Because it celebrates a recent historical event, this is one of a handful of Jewish holidays without a basis in ancient Jewish religious texts. There are no religious restrictions, as there are with some other Jewish holidays. Yom Ha'atzma'ut is often celebrated with parades, lectures, Israeli food and dancing.

What do you eat on Yom Haatzmaut? ›

Israelis love to celebrate Independence Day with a good barbecue out in nature. Usually on the menu are steak, chicken wings, boneless chicken thighs, ground lamb kebabs, hummus and salads. And don't you dare forget the charred eggplant, made whole on the grill, and the newly in season sweet watermelon.

Which country did Israel get independence from? ›

The British controlled Palestine until Israel, in the years following the end of World War II, became an independent state in 1947.

What time is Yom HaAtzmaut? ›

Yom Haatzmaut begins at sundown immediately following Yom Hazikaron and ends after sundown the following day. It celebrates the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel in 1948, making this the 71st birthday! Yom Haatzmaut celebrates the 75th year of the State of Israel.

Why did Britain give Palestine to Israel? ›

In 1917, in order to win Jewish support for Britain's First World War effort, the British Balfour Declaration promised the establishment of a Jewish national home in Ottoman-controlled Palestine.

Why is 1948 important to Israel? ›

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.

What was Palestine once called? ›

The Assyrians called the same region "Palashtu/Palastu" or "Pilistu," beginning with Adad-nirari III in the Nimrud Slab in c. 800 BCE through to an Esarhaddon treaty more than a century later.

What is the most solemn holiday of Israel? ›

Yom Kippur is the most solemn of Jewish religious holidays, when Jews seek to expiate their sins and achieve reconciliation with God.

What is Israel most famous dish? ›

Falafel is Israel's national dish, and if you're a fan of these famous chickpea fritters then you'll not go hungry.

What is Israel's famous breakfast? ›

The Maghrebi egg dish shakshouka (shakshuka), brought to Israel by Tunisian Jews, is a common choice, comprising eggs poached in tomato sauce. Other Middle Eastern dishes may include Israeli salad, hummus, tehina, halloumi, ful medames, baba ghanoush and the strained yogurt known as labaneh.

What is the most popular breakfast in Israel? ›

What to eat in Israel? 5 Most Popular Israeli Breakfasts
  • Pastry. Jachnun. ISRAEL. and one more region. shutterstock. ...
  • Egg Dish. Matzah brei. ISRAEL. shutterstock. 3.3. ...
  • Egg Dish. Shakshouka. ISRAEL. and 7 more regions. shutterstock. ...
  • Cookie. Mandelbrot. ISRAEL. shutterstock. ...
  • Breakfast. Israeli Breakfast. ISRAEL. shutterstock.
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