Yom Ha’atzmaut

April Newsletter

A Yom Ha’atzmaut message from the World Zionist Organisation

Dear Friends,

The State of Israel is one of the greatest accomplishments of the Jewish people throughout history. The Zionist movement did the extraordinary and brought the Jewish people back to their land after 2,000 years of exile.

When we are asked to  summarize this chapter of the first 70 years, we must remember and cherish all those who contributed to the building and strength of the State of Israel, those from Israel and those from the Diaspora. To thank those who envisioned, worked, acted, and breathed life into the ancient dream.

I want to thank all of you, in the name of the World Zionist Organization. Thank you. Thank you for your steadfast and unwavering support of the State of Israel, a task that gets harder and harder every day. But because of your support and achievements, we succeeded.

I wish all of us that in the next decade, we will know how to strengthen the connection between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel. We will find our similarities and respect our differences.

I hope that we will take significant steps forward to continue building the exemplary society that Herzl once dreamed about: a more just and egalitarian society that respects the stranger and the minorities living within and among us.

And I wish that in the 8th decade of the State of Israel, we will get to see more of our people around the world connecting to their Judaism and to the state of Israel, with strength and hope.

I wish that this verse will be fulfilled (from the prayer of Amidah):
“He who makes peace in his high places
He shall make peace upon us
And upon all of Israel and upon all of Earth’s inhabitants
And let us say Amen”.

Mazal Tov to us all,

Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman
Head of the Department for Diaspora Activities
World Zionist Organization

Reflections from Jerusalem by Tammy Cohen

Shalom from Jerusalem!

My second semester at HUC-JIR, studying a Masters of Jewish Education and Masters of Jewish Non-Profit Management has continued to inspire and challenge me. In our Education Seminar, we explore education methodologies and the different kinds of ways to connect with learners. We continue to discuss our own Jewish identities, how we define and connect to Judaism; Israel; Jewish education and the role each of these plays now and in the future of our movement. We have taken intensive classes in Jewish liturgy, and continue with Hebrew, Israel Seminar, Bible and Biblical Grammar.
I have also taken this opportunity to participate in many programs outside of the classroom. In January, I participated in the Encounter Program, meeting with members of the Palestinian community to learn and hear their stories. These community members were open about the complexities and the challenges from both sides of the conflict, and each work to establish peace and coexistence. This experience raised many new questions for me about the realities of the conflict, media coverage and the ways that we engage with this topic back home.

In February, I chanted Torah at the Kotel, for Rosh Chodesh with Women of the Wall. All year, we have been actively involved with the Israeli Religious Action Centre (IRAC) and Women of the Wall, fighting for religious equality. It was a really special morning, to stand with Progressive, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox women in the Women’s section of the Kotel, supported by men (who stood in the Plaza) and chant Torah. Despite our differences in practices, rituals and customs, we come together each month, striving to understand more about each other, and work towards forming an Israel that represents all Jewish people, and all people.

For Pesach, I travelled to Belarus as part of the HUC/WUPJ/JDC 2018 Pesach Project. We learnt about the Jewish communities in Gomel, Mogilev and Minsk. We participated in 7 sedarim with different organisations and demographics. We met with community leaders who shared with us the incredible work that they do, with very little resources, collaborating with other organisations and creating real change, not only for the Jewish community, but for the wider Belarusian community, including Netzer, the WUPJ Synagogues, a Jewish Day school and Hesed – the JDC program for the elderly.

Now we find ourselves in the middle of the Israeli High Holy Days – Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. The feeling in the country has changed. The people are mournful and reflective, thinking about the past and preparing for the future. We are participating in a number of memorial and commemorative ceremonies, including the Yom HaShoah National Memorial Ceremony I attended last week at Yad Vashem. It is a time for reflecting about what it means to be Israeli, and to be Jewish in the modern world.

This year in Israel is quickly coming to an end. I am excited to continue the next year of my studies in Los Angeles. The opportunity to be living in Israel this year has been something very special and I am very appreciative of the support of ARZA.

Thank you again,


Tammy Cohen