This year, Yom Haatzmaut falls on April 26, 2012. Just to brush everyone up on Israeli history, Yom Haatzmaut is the day that Jews worldwide celebrate the creation of the state of Israel. It is preceded by Yom Hazikaron in which we memorialize the fallen soldiers of Israel.
As a side note, growing up as a student in the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, I am forever grateful for the love of Israel that was instilled in all of us. On Yom Haatzmaut we would craft Israeli flags, sing and dance, and yearn for the day when we could go kiss the kotel in Jerusalem. The school was founded by Joel Braverman, who was born in 1896 in the Ukraine. He went on to found one of the top modern orthodox yeshivot in America which combined a top notch Torah education and the love of Israel, with secular learning on par with the American public schools.
Several years ago, while interviewing a Syrian Jewish gentleman for The Sephardic Heritage Museum, I was surprised to learn that he was was of the first Syrian Jewish students to attend the Yeshivah of Flatbush in the 40’s. He recounted the story of how, during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, as a first grader, he was taunted by the Ashkenazi kids that he was indeed an Arab, and an enemy of the new state of Israel. When his father heard about the students accusations, he promptly contacted Mr. Braverman who in turn educated all of the children that Syrian Jews were their brethren, and they resided in Syria for 3,000 years. He explained to them that only in the late 1800’s did they start to emigrate to countries such as the United States.
Little did Joel Braverman and other community members know, that at the very same time in 1948 that Israel was happily declared a state, the Jews back in Syria were suffering their very own “Kristalnacht” in which angry Arab mobs rampaged through the streets of Aleppo, burning down marked Jewish homes, synagogues (including the 3,000 year old ancient Great Synagogue of Aleppo), and destroying hundreds of irreplaceable Torah scrolls and manuscripts. Jewish men, women and children fled upon the rooftops, or hid with sympathetic Arab neighbors. Hundreds of Syrian young boys escaped Syria at that time to fight as soldiers in the War of Indepence and they proudly tell their stories today. (Get ready for Episode 7 produced by Joe Sitt and The Sephardic Heritage Museum!)
Please remember the struggles and tribulations of Eretz Yisrael this week. Here are some ways to incorporate Yom Haatzmaut into your week!
Read more about Yom Haatzmaut HERE.
1-Thank you Rachel Margolies for a fun way to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut with the kids! Check out Delightfully Dowling for instant instructions on how to make these delicious blue and white color swirled cupcakes. What does your family do to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut? Please comment below!
image via pjcc
2- Learn about The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan. Here are some great Amazon reviews that convinced me to click and buy…
3- Support Israeli agriculture and shop at Negev Nectars- Gourmet kosher delicacies made by Israeli farmers. I’ve served these gourmet preserves and spreads to my guests and they are indeed delicious !
4- Make Israeli Couscous- adapted from The New York Times:
- 1 cup Israeli couscous, preferably whole-wheat
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1 ounce feta, diced
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 red pepper, cut in thin 2-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt (or use half olive oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or mild chili powder (more to taste)
1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Stir until the couscous begins to color and smell toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain if any liquid remains in the pan.
2. Transfer the couscous to a bowl and add the cilantro, chives, feta, pine nuts, chickpeas and red pepper.
3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the lemon juice, salt, cumin, remaining olive oil, yogurt and Aleppo pepper or chili powder. Toss with the couscous mixture. This is perfect Shavuot recipe or grab a cup of this delicious Israeli couscous for lunch on the go.
5- Make these Israel themed books a bedtime favorite. A memorable gift for a niece or nephew…
6- Watch Barbara Streisand sing Hatikvah to Golda Meir - I LOVE THIS VIDEO!