“If you will it, it is no dream.” With these words in 1902, Theodore Herzl captured the imagination of world Jewry, outlining a vision for a Jewish state in the ancestral homeland of our ancestors.
On April 19th, we will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the realization of this vision. In its 70 years of existence, Israel has come a long way, evolving from a land of desert and swamps, to a place widely recognized for its innovation and start-up culture.
Today, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and she plays an essential role in the world. Whenever there is a natural disaster, anywhere, Israel is often the first on the ground delivering much-needed aid and rescue. Israeli water companies recently came to California to help our state innovate and learn cutting edge approaches to combat our local drought. In this issue of JLife SGPV, one of our writers has highlighted many of the incredible advances Israel has made in the fields of medicine, agriculture, and so many other areas of science, art, engineering and more: innovations that have saved lives, improved our environment, and benefitted people around the world.
For some, the politics of Israel and the difficulty of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict overshadows our pride in Israel’s innovations. As Jews, this is something that we must wrestle with. How can we both love Israel, recognize its importance for us as Jews, and also acknowledge our discomfort and the depth of complexity with this conflict? It is something that I struggle with and consider every day and do not have a good answer for. The word Israel literally means, wrestles with G-d, and that wrestling is important.
As a way to celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday, I encourage everyone to go and visit this incredible country during its celebratory year, whether it is your first time or fifth time. In fact, consider joining your fellow community members on the Jewish Federation’s Community-wide Israel trip in October. You will not be disappointed and you will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for our ancestral homeland.