The State of Israel celebrated its 60th year of statehood yesterday on the 3rd of Iyyar because the official date of Israel’s independence (5 Iyyar) falls on Shabbat this year. World leaders, celebrities, and corporate tycoons are joining Israel’s Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities in Israel.
Even President Bush will be attending the President’s Conference next week. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was scheduled to appear at the President’s Conference on a technology panel with Google founder Sergey Brin. However, his name has been dropped from the schedule. Perhaps this is because he was offended that all the press material had him listed incorrectly as “Mark Zuckerman”.
Many world leaders have also made official proclamations to honor Israel on its milestone anniversary. The JTA reports that on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a “stinking corpse” on its way to “annihilation”. In other news, the Hallmark Greeting Card company has hired Iranian president Ahmandinejad to write birthday and anniversary cards.
On a more serious matter, I attended a very moving Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) program on Tuesday evening. A portion of the documentary film, A Hero in Heaven, about Michael Levin (z”l) was shown. IDF Staff Sergeant Michael Levin, a former USYer and Ramah Poconos camper from Philadelphia who made aliyah to Israel, was killed during the Lebanon war in August 2006. The film is a very moving tribute to Michael, who was a chayal boded (a lone soldier, meaning he had no immediate relatives in Israel).
In the past sixty years Israel has celebrated great successes and mourned for the loss of thousands who died fighting for the country. Below is a video in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary. Am Yisrael Chai!