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Rabbi Josh Weinberg

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Row of Israeli flags against background of blue sky and clouds

Only in Israel and nowhere else is the injunction to remember felt as a religious imperative to an entire people. -- Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi

On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel into being. The short ceremony as Shabbat ensued changed Jewish history forever, returning Jewish sovereignty to the Land of Israel and giving the Jewish people a nation-state.

However, Ben Gurion did much more than create a Jewish state. He also seized this rare opportunity to invent a new Jewish holiday, which hadn’t been done since the rabbis codified...

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Multiple Israeli flags and blue and white streamers in the sunlight

“In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” – Prime Minister David Ben Gurion

Last night, we made the heart-wrenching, 180-degree transition from deep mourning to joyous celebration of the miraculous feat of independence. Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) offers a welcome respite from a week of mourning (from Yom HaShoah through Yom HaZikaron, a period some have coined “the seven days of memory”), giving us a chance to rejoice in Israel’s statehood and reflect on her many achievements.

Yom HaAtzmaut is an invented holiday, affording us an...

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Israeli flags flying in front of Jerusalem building

Our Rabbis taught: If one sees a crowd of Jews, one says: “Blessed is He who is the wise-knower of all secrets,” whose minds are unlike each other and whose faces are unlike each other.

Ben Zoma once saw a crowd on one of the steps of the Temple Mount, he said, “Blessed is He who is the wise-knower of secrets.…[and b]lessed is He who created all these to serve me.” (BT B'rachot 58a)

As I sat among the roughly 18,000 people filling Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center during this week’s AIPAC policy conference, I was reminded of this blessing found in the Tractate B'rachot. We...

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“Take your son, your only one, the one you love, Yitzhak…” (Gen 22:2)

Just as the biblical story of the Akeidah (the binding of Isaac) perplexes us and forces us to ask difficult questions, so too, does Israeli society struggle – as it has for two decades – with the context in which to observe the yahrzeit of Yitzhak Rabin.

The prodigal son of the Zionist enterprise, Rabin was born in 1922 and educated at the famous Kadoorie Agricultural High School. He joined the Palmach (the elite fighting force of the Jewish underground army) in the 1940s and became one of the great...

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The 21st Zionist Congress in Geneva, 1939

This post originally appeared on RJ.org.

I am sure that over the past couple of weeks you have watched the news coming out of Israel with grave concern. These new terror attacks are both difficult to deter and impossible to predict: One Israeli friend of mine commented, “It feels like 2002 all over again, except all the lessons we learned about suicide bombers aren’t helpful in preventing someone stabbing you in your neighborhood.”

It is no doubt a trying time for the people of Israel, for the Palestinians, and for all of us who feel emotionally connected to the situation...

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