70 Years Young: Reflections on Israel’s 70th Birthday

By Aaron Schwartz

USY International Israel Affairs VP 2017-2018

In 1948 a group of people with a dream and an ambition for autonomy sought to create a homeland.

A little sliver of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, rich with history and heritage, was about to become the homeland for the Jewish people.

The chalutzim (pioneers) created something from nothing. Before them, they saw a vast barren desert, yet this did not deter them.

They took this desert and turned it into something incredible.

Today is a day of joy and celebration. Today we celebrate Yom Haatzmaut, Israel Independence Day, and 70 years of Israel.

Over the first 70 years, Israel and her people have made great strides to better all of humankind. Technology and product markets are booming industries.

The Israeli people have built renewable energy power plants. They created cutting-edge desalination technologies to help impoverished countries. They’ve send aid workers to countries in the midst of a disaster.

Israel is now a world power, on the forefront of both medical and military research.

The country has continued to grow with the help of leaders, chronologically from David Ben-Gurion to Benjamin Netanyahu.

Under these leaders, Israel has thrived and experienced a period of economic and social prosperity. Israel’s leaders gave everything for their country, and this sacrifice remains in the Israeli spirit today.

Yesterday, on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, we commemorated all those who fought and died in the name of their country. They gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our homeland, would never cease to exist.

We will forever be indebted to them for their service and all they gave for their country. Without them, people like me would never be able to visit the pristine beaches of Netanya or the snowy peaks of Mt. Hermon.

Today, Israel still faces many issues. We as American Jews and USYers have an obligation to Israel. We must try our best to help promote the long-lasting peace of the Jewish homeland.

So what can you do?

Help build your connection to Israel and foster a love for it in your fellow USYers by getting involved.

  • Forge a personal relationship with Israel by visiting this summer with USY Israel Pilgrimage.
  • Have a specific Israeli area of interest? Reach out to [email protected] to submit a topic for Takshivu, our video series that promotes Israel education
  • Connect others in your chapter to Israel by hosting a program
  • Participate annual International USY initiatives like
    • USY Goes B.I.G. day, buying Israeli goods in support of the anti-BDS movement
    • Zikaron BaSalon, where you can commemorate Yom HaShoah with a program started by young Israelis, hosting a Holocaust survivor in your home to deliver their testimony
  • Join Chalutzim, USY’s Israel club, to have in-depth discussions on Israel-related topics that you won’t get during regional conventions
  • Show your love and support by marching in your local Israeli Day Parade

We need to look towards the future. In fifty years, do we want our grandkids to be able to visit the pristine beaches of Netanya or the snowy peaks of Mt. Hermon?

The answers are yes. We must show our unbridled enthusiasm for the state of Israel. USYers need to show the world everything that Israel has to offer.

On this diverse piece of land, our People, together, have created one of the most amazing and influential countries in the world.

Israel is my whole world. My entire life revolves around the country. I have family that lives there, my spirit is there, and my heart is there.

There are fantastic cities, vibrant communities, and beautiful views.

I love Israel and everything that it has to offer. Let us continue to support Israel for the next 70 years and beyond.