"Somehow, in ways I don't fully understand, the Jewish people has been touched by a power greater than ourselves, that has led our ancestors and contemporaries, time and again, to defy the normal parameters of history. Somehow heaven and earth met in the Jewish heart, lifting people to do what otherwise seemed impossible. Descartes said: I think, therefore I am. The Jewish axiom is different. Ani maamin. I believe, therefore I am."
-- Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Since 1860 - when Jewish settlers first moved outside the walls of Jerusalem - over 23,000 Jews have lost their lives in defense of Israel. Yom Hazikaron - The Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism - commemorates fallen soldiers as well as civilian victims of political violence and terrorism.
In Israel, at 8:00 P.M. on May 10th and at 11:00 A.M. on May 11th, a siren will sound across the country. All motion will stop and every citizen in the country will stand in silence in tribute.
In Jewish communities across the world, ceremonies and events at local Jewish institutions mark this day. The Jewish people, in Israel and abroad, are reminded of the costly price that has been paid by Jewish families for the independence we enjoy today.
Yom Haatzmaut - Israel's Independence day - follows on the heels of Yom Hazikaron. At 8:00 P.M. on May 11th, mourning will transform to celebration as Israel rings in its 68th birthday.
A thriving nation of 8.5 million citizens, Israel is the only country in the world whose right to exist is continuously challenged. Yet Israel is stronger today than ever before and is able to withstand extreme political and military pressures not placed on any other nation in the world. Not just a military superpower, Israel has harnessed its brainpower and has positioned itself as a leader in technological innovation in all industries.
On Israel's 68th birthday, we salute our Jewish homeland and the extraordinary accomplishments of the Jewish people.
Yom Huledet Sameach!