JE Editorial: Celebrating Israel

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Israel's 67th Independence Day is an apt time to push aside our worries and embrace celebration of the Jewish state.

We spend a lot of time worrying about Israel these days. Now’s a good time to shift our focus to celebrating the Jewish state as it turns 67, an aging baby boomer in human terms, a mere child in the life of a nation. 
 
Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, which falls on April 23 this year, caps the annual week of rollercoaster emotions as we relive the two most seminal events to affect the Jewish people in modern history — the Holocaust and the creation of the Jewish state.
 
The holiday bookends wisely force us to reflect on a shattered past and move rapidly to rejoice in the present.
 
There is admittedly much to cause angst. We worry: Is there another war looming in the near future? A nuclear Iran? What will the next coalition government look like? Will its leaders act wisely to further Israeli and Jewish interests around the world?
 
But amid our fears for its future, we have much to appreciate in the here and now — the Israel behind the headlines that boasts a thriving democracy filled with creative talent, spiritual strength and entrepreneurial ingenuity. 
 
We also have much work to do to help connect our peers and our children to the Jewish state in all its glory and its complexity. So what can we do to bring ourselves and our families a little closer to Israel this year? Here are just a few suggestions:
 
Make a vow to travel to Israel in the next year. There is nothing that compares to an up-close-and-personal experience. Take your family, join a synagogue or school mission, go on Birthright. Just go.
 
Vote in the World Zionist Congress elections. The deadline is fast approaching to cast your ballot for one of 11 slates vying for representation in what is described as the international parliament of the Jewish people and whose history dates back to the founding of political Zionism by Theodor Herzl. Find out more and vote at: myselfourisrael.com
 
Party hard. Loads of activities are taking place around the community, from synagogue songfests to youth group dance-a-thons, from celebrations geared to families with young children to those targeting the young professional crowd. 
 
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is changing it up this year, shifting its annual community-wide Israel celebration from Penn’s Landing to Citizens Bank Park, where an Israel festival is the opening pitch for Jewish Heritage Night at the Phillies on May 12. 
 
Click here or here for a full list of Israel events. Chag sameach! 

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