Israel Turns Seventy
Celebrating in Jerusalem, 1948
The state of Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary on April 19 this year. Amid the tensions and challenges of the turbulent Middle East it's a day of celebration for Israel and recognition of the "first-fruits of redemption," as the Jewish people from around the world reclaim and restore their ancient homeland.
Just hours before the end of the British Mandate over the land of Israel, on May 14, the 5th of Iyar, 1948, David ben Gurion opened Israel's declaration of independence with these words:
The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.
After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.
After tracing the history of the Jewish return to Eretz-Israel, ben Gurion continued:
Accordingly we, members of the People’s Council, representatives of the Jewish community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist movement, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British Mandate over Eretz-Israel and, by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the basis of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the state of Israel. . . .
Placing our trust in the “Rock of Israel”, we affix our signatures to this proclamation at this session of the provisional council of state, on the soil of the homeland, in the city of Tel-Aviv, on this Sabbath eve, the 5th day of Iyar, 5708 (14th May, 1948). (Full text of the Declaration)
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem—
“May those who love you be at peace!
May there be shalom within your walls—
quietness within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I now say: “Shalom be within you.”
For the sake of the House of Adonai our God,
I will seek your good. Psalm 122:6-9 TLV