If you have ever experienced the transition from Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) to Yom Haatzmaut (Israel Independence Day) the very next day, you know that the sudden switch from mourning to celebration can be a bit unsettling. To help ease the discomfort, Israelis decided to bridge the days with a torch lighting ceremony that honors Israelis who have made important contributions to the State.
This year’s torch lighting theme is the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. “On Israel’s 69th Independence Day, Israel salutes Jerusalem as our eternal capital,” said Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev. “Each of the torchbearers will tell the story of Jerusalem from their personal and special perspective.” This will be the first year since the founding of the State that Jews from outside of Israel will be included among the torch bearers. A special Torch of the Jewish People will be lit by those “who personify the concern and work being done for the future of the Jewish people, and reinforce the link between world Jewry and Israel.” Michael Steinhardt, Taglit-Birthright co-founder and prominent Jewish philanthropist, has been chosen to light the torch along with founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Marvin Hier.
The Federation-supported Birthright program has sent over 500,000 young Jews ages 18-26 on a free 10-day trip to Israel, strengthening their Jewish identity as well as their connection to Israel and to their fellow Jews. This is a proud moment for Federation!
To read more about the torch lighting ceremony click here.