This week Israel celebrated its 75th Birthday! The State of Israel is a modern miracle. Just three years after Jews walked out of Auschwitz, who would have imagined a blue and white flag would be raised in Jerusalem celebrating the birth of a modern Jewish state.
The existence of Israel comes at a price. Israel’s fallen are remembered on Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) which is the day before Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (Israel’s Independence Day.) The juxtaposition of these two dates is meant to emphasize their connection.
Sadly, since last Memorial Day, 90 new names have been added to the list of those who died defending the country. Yet Israel continues to grow. On the eve of its 75th birthday, there are 9,727,000 people living in Israel. 7,145,000 are Jewish, or 73.5 percent, along with 2,048,000 Arabs (21%) and 534,000 members of other minorities (5.5%). This is nearly 12 times the population of the state on the day of its founding. Since last year, Israel’s population grew by 216,000 people, an increase of 2.3%. There were 183,000 babies born and 79,000 new immigrants arrived.
In America a period of time elapsed between the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution. Similarly, Israel is now reaching its constitutional moment. For 17 consecutive weeks hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets calling for, among other things, a Constitution. We have witnessed a new coming together of the center-left and the center-right in Israeli society.
The galvanizing of the center in a true paradigm shift in Israeli society today. This offers new hope for breaking decades of a bifurcation.
In 1789 Americans declared “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
I pray that 2023 will be the year Israelis declare, “We the People of the State of Israel, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the People of the State of Israel.”
Herzl wrote “If you will it, it is not a dream.” It is time to will it.
Rabbi David Wilfond