On April 25 the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles sponsored a well-attended celebration of Yom Ha’Atsmaut, Israel Independence Day, at Sinai Temple in Westwood.
Almost every country has a day to celebrate itself, often a date which it regards as its birthday. But Israel’s Yom Ha’Atsmaut partakes of the miraculous. First, the miracle of reviving Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel after nineteen centuries of exile. Then, the miracle of 1947-49, when the Jewish State survived the concerted Arab military campaign to destroy it. And perhaps the miracle of surviving and thriving yet another year since last year’s Yom Ha’Atsmaut. (Yom Ha’Atsmaut is always preceded by Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.) Whether you regard these achievements as having Divine or human origins, they merit joyous commemoration.
Yom Ha’Atsmaut is on the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, which this year is April 26 (beginning, of course, on the evening of the 25th). After a reception featuring a variety of fine Israeli wines, the program began with M.C. Israeli actress Moran Atias pointing out that the evening would “highlight Israel’s passion for life and dedication to tikun olam, repairing the world.” The program focused on Save a Child’s Heart, a remarkable Israeli organization whose doctors perform life-saving heart surgery on children from developing nations for free at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel. Save a Child’s Heart also trains doctors from the partnering countries to perform advanced cardiac surgery.
Since its founding in 1995, Save a Child’s Heart has treated over 3,000 children from some 42 countries. Forty percent of these patients are from Arab nations. Save a Child’s Heart runs a free weekly cardiology clinic in Gaza. Lead Surgeon Lior Sasson told the Los Angeles audience that Yom Ha’Atsmaut means not only Israel’s ability to defend itself, and not just the ability to develop itself—but to be able to reach out and help others. “One of the best ways to repair the world is to repair the broken hearts of children.”
The evening concluded with a performance by well-known Israeli musician Idan Raichel, a good-will ambassador for Save a Child’s Heart. A very Jewish way to celebrate Israel Independence Day.
The party continues this Sunday at Cheviot Hills Recreation Center with the “Celebrate Israel” Independence Day Festival.