By Rabbi Daniel A. Roberts
As you read this column, you will soon be exposed to the media coverage of the celebration of Israel’s 65th birthday. This special day is called Yom Haazmaut (Day of Independence) and occurs this year at sundown Monday, according to the Hebrew calendar (don’t forget that all Jewish holidays begin at sundown the night before).
This celebration comes on the heels of the worldwide commemoration of Yom Ha Shoa – Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day of collective mourning for the deaths of 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children who were ripped from their homes and murdered for no other reason than they were of Jewish heritage.
Imagine how different the world would have been if there had been an open door policy anywhere in the world offering safe haven for the Jews of Germany, Poland, Hungary, Holland, France and the rest of Europe. The ingenuity and accomplishments of Israelis in only 65 years speak volumes of what Europe lost as it annihilated its Jewish population.
On the occasion of the celebration of Israel’s independence, it is almost impossible not to reflect on what Israel has given to the world. It is astonishing that only 65 years ago Israel was a Third World country populated by impoverished immigrants and survivors of the Holocaust, and today it is a first-tier nation with the best military in the Middle East. Here is a short list of some of the inventions and discoveries from Israel:
Our children have blossomed into doctors, teachers, engineers and scientists.
Our young people helped develop the cell phone by working in the Israeli branch of Motorola.
Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. The Pentium MMX chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.
They developed voice mail technology.
They designed the airline industry’s most impenetrable flight security.
They created the Iron Dome which saved lives in Israel and prevented the need for Israel to march into Gaza when the possibility of civilian lives would be lost.
Israel’s $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined.
After the U.S. and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies.
Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. The per capita income in 2012 exceeded that of the U.K.
Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world apart from Silicon Valley.
Israeli scientists have developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.
Israel’s Givun Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill and helps doctors to diagnose cancer and digestive disorders from inside the intestine.
They have created ReWalk, which enables paraplegics to walk again.
Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.
This is the miracle of a country that 65 years ago was a deforested land of rubble and so small that it’s name on a map can’t fit into its boundaries.
Just imagine what 6 million more inventors, Nobel Prize winners, scientists, authors and artists could have contributed to the betterment of the world were there not a Holocaust. So this 65th birthday of Israel is a celebration of freedom, of democratic values, of women’s rights, of a country that practices religious freedom and protects all religions’ holy sites. Israel is a nation that is dedicated to the same morals and principles that the United States professes and is the U.S.’s only true ally in the Middle East. No matter what religion you are, Israel should be a place to visit on your “bucket list,” for nowhere else can one walk the streets and fields and feel such a sense of spirituality.
Happy 65th birthday, Israel!
Rabbi Daniel A. Roberts is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel, Sharon.