Jewish Federation NEPA’s Executive Director, Daniel Chejfec, Ph.D
A Special day. Yom HaAtzmaut 75th! We traveled to Neón Kedumim, a nature park near the old Green Line between Lod and Modi’in. It was a day full of activities. The teachers at the park gave us demonstrations on ancient scribal art, Olive oil production in ancient times, and bread making with the original grains from ancient Israel, we saw a mock-up of an ancient water wheel and an antique wine press. We planted trees at the Harvey Hertz JNF tree planting center; we danced, we played the drums, and we partook in an Israeli-style BBQ. In short, we celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut in a way I, personally, was never able to do before.
You see, in my mind, Yom HaAtzmaut is not just Israel Independence Day but also an opportunity to celebrate what we have achieved through our role, as Jewish Federations, in supporting and helping to build this magnificent democratic modern society that Israel is today. It is true that according to the news, Israelis seem to be at each other throats today – and in some ways mauve they are, but I see it from a different perspective: Israelis are exercising their right to disagree passionately about the issues affecting them – and I find that argument inspiring. It proves that Israel continues to be a dynamic society where agreement is not seen as a sin but as a right. I’m really proud of being part of the Federation system and the role we played, and continue to play, in the Israel Story, of our people restoring independence in the land o& our ancestors, of reviving the language of our people as a spoken language, of representing today a force of change and transformation in many fields; contributing above their weight to the building of a better world. Above all, when I’m in Israel I feel at home.
Tonight we will have a night concert at Caesarea, courtesy of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, so this blog will be sent later tonight, so I can share with you the excitement of closing the 75th Yom HaAtzmaut!
Just came back from the concert. It was nothing short of spectacular!! The music and the performers represented the diversity of Israeli Jews! Gil Shohat, Shai Abramson, Edén Alene, Daniella Lugassy, the Shalva band, and more! For me, the biggest revelation was probably Ilana Yahav, a sand artist who told the stories behind the songs with her sand art on screen and live. And all of them against the background of the Roman theater at Caesarea. The songs covered the traditional, like Hava Naguila and Exodus, to the Ladino like Los Bibilicos, to the Israeli classics like Jerusalem of Gold and Shir LaShalom, to the modern Israeli and English songs. I was surprised when the concert ended, I looked at my watch, and I saw that more than three hours had passed! I wish we could have shared the experience as a community!
I’ll still be in Israel for a couple of days. Tomorrow there is a planned mass demonstration in Jerusalem in support of the Judicial Reform, and another in Tel Aviv against it. Witnessing the passion of both sides and their dedication makes me proud of Israeli democracy. Hopefully, they will sit down and talk in search of a compromise… I pray they do.