by Ron Kronish
” The modern State of Israel was brought into being after more than 60 years of dreaming and struggle by the leaders of the Zionist Movement — the national liberation movement of the Jewish People — that began in Europe at the end of the 19th century and led to our Declaration of Independence, which was proclaimed by David Ben Gurion on May 14, 1948.
We will celebrate Israel’s Independence next Monday night and all day Tuesday in Israel as a national and religious holiday. For many of us, it is “the beginning of the flowering of our redemption” (as stated in one of the versions of the prayer for the state of Israel recited every Shabbat in synagogues in Israel and throughout the world). It is preceded by Memorial Day, a very solemn day in our country on which thousands of people visit cemeteries all over the country to remember those who sacrificed their lives so that this independent Jewish state could be free and prosper.
Israel has changed greatly during the years since the state was founded in 1948. New waves of aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) have helped Israel grow from a population of 600,000 people to a population of 7.9 million people today, 80 percent of whom are Jewish. With time, the idealism and socialism of the pioneering decades in the pre-state era and in the early years of the state, has dissipated greatly. Contemporary Western Culture — for good and for bad — has inhibited greatly our previous egalitarianism and socialism to compete in the free market of ideas and trends, especially for the younger generation.”
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