Israel’s Independence Day – Yom Ha’atzmaut is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, which is the Hebrew date of the formal establishment of the State of Israel, when the Declaration of Independence was read and signed in Tel Aviv. The original date corresponded to May 14, 1948. Making this Israel’s 70th year as a nation.
Yom Ha’atzmaut in Israel is always preceded by Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen Israeli soldiers. The message of linking these two days is clear: Israelis owe their independence — the very existence of the state — to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it.
In Israel, Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremonies traditionally begin with a torch lighting ceremony. Twelve torches are lit to symbolize and honor the 12 tribes of Israel.
This year, as we create our own celebration for Israel’s 70th birthday, we are taking part in an interactive tribute intended to get people to think about what Israel means to them and what their connection – or tie – is to Israel.
#mytietoisrael, an interactive tribute, is an international movement happening in communities around the globe to celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday and visually represent personal connections to Israel. In Hebrew, 70 is represented by the letter Ayin. Ayin resembles a tie, a knot, a connection.
Just as other communities around the world are doing, we set up a #mytietoisrael display at our Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. Each person at the celebration was invited up to take a piece of string, share their connection with Israel and then tie that string to a large piece of netting. What a colorful, meaningful canvas of string we created on that netting!
As Director of Arts & Education and Jewish Programming, it’s important to me to help our members connect with and appreciate their Jewish heritage and identity. So when I heard about the goal of #mytietoisrael – for each community to create its own bigger tie comprised of all its members individual ties – I thought this was a perfect way to help foster that connection and appreciation.
Eventually, a piece taken from the net of each community will be hung in the house of the Israeli president. How exciting to know that a piece of our JCC in Scotch Plains, NJ will be displayed in such a prominent place!