Israel 75: A Day of Remembrance and Celebration

Join us at the APJCC Los Gatos for this year’s observance of  Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, on April 25th, starting at 5pm. This year it will feel new to all of us…

This year, the observance centers on a havdalah– a ritual of distinction marking the transition between two moments of holiness.


 We are working to establish a new tradition in our community. In doing so, we take our cue from Beit Tefillah Israeli (Israeli Prayer House) in Tel Aviv. Whose clergy recently created a ritual to mark the transition from the mourning that defines Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s equivalent of Memorial Day), to the celebration that surrounds Yom Ha’atzmaut (Indepence Day). 

But rituals of distinction are also about connection. There is much we can learn in our uneasy times about building bridges of understanding when we bring together two deeply held experiences and have them inform each other. While I may not yet know what we’ll learn through our encounters on April 25th

Here are some of the questions I encourage you to bring to the experience:

  • What does it mean for mourning to speak to dancing and dancing to mourning? 
  • What does it mean to feel both difference and connection in the same moment?
  • What does it mean for Israelis to observe Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut outside the land of Israel?
  • What does it mean for those Israelis who define themselves as chiloni, as secular, to stand with those habituated to synagogues, rabbis, and organized ritual?
  • What does it mean for North American Jews to include themselves in mourning rites alongside Israelis who might well have first-hand experience with the loss of loved ones to war or terror?
  • What does it mean for those concerned about the future of Israel’s democracy, about the status of its minorities, about protecting universal human rights, to enter the joy of Israel at 75?
  • What does it mean for North Americans to live in dialogue with the language, culture, and people of Israel?

Rabbi Ismar Schorsch writes, “Judaism is above all a life of dialogue.”

For me, we are at our best when we work to celebrate our differences and strengthen our connections. For me, living that part of our mission that calls on us to “harness the power of community to build bridges of understanding,” is holy work. I hope you will sense that holiness when we distinguish between holy and holy at the havdalah distinguishing between mourning and dancing on April 25th

A special Thanks to the leadership of Rabbi Nico Socolovsky of Shir Hadash, of Maya Tripp, and Shavit Levinson of our JCC, and thanks to the support and trust of a wide range of community partners for making this happen.