By: Avital Stern-Buchnick
This Thursday marks seventy years since Israel was declared an independent Jewish state! To me, seventy years seems like a pretty long time ago, but I’m sure that for some May 15, 1948 doesn’t seem that far away. Some of you might even be able to recall where you were or what you did on that glorious day. The number seventy is at once a small and a large number. (Israel celebrates Independence Day on the Hebrew date of the 5th of Iyar. This year the 5th of Iyar falls on the Gregorian date of April 19, 2018.)
According to Jewish tradition, seventy years is a number that marks the beginning of old age, the entrance into one’s golden years. But it also signifies the wisdom that comes with a full life. Israel is at this very threshold, and there really is so much to celebrate. If we reflect on the rapid growth that has taken place in this relatively short period of time, it is hard not to see God’s hand in our modern history, because it is nothing short of a miracle. In terms of nation building, seventy years is the blink of an eye, and yet after 70 years we hope we have gained knowledge. As a nation we have been through ups and downs, all the while learning from our mistakes, and there is a lot we have learned in these seventy years.
I appreciate the nature of the number seventy signifying both one thing and it’s very opposite. According to Jewish tradition, there were seventy languages and nations of the world, beginning with the generation following the great flood in Noah’s time. A group joined together to build a structure that would reach the heavens — they would ascend it and fight God. This became known as the Tower of Babel. As punishment for their rebellion, God planted conflict among them by causing each to speak a different language. From the unfinished Tower of Babel, the different languages separated from each other, and formed seventy nations. In this case, the number 70 came to represent disunity and conflict.
But the number seventy has two opposite connotations. While it represents disunity, it also represents the height of unity. There were seventy members of Jacob’s family that descended to Egypt. When Jacob and his household traveled to Egypt to be with his son, Joseph, the Bible tells us, “All the offspring of Jacob, seventy soul.” Not souls, in the plural form, but the singular word—soul. The Jewish commentaries explain that the degree of unity among the family members was such that they were as one man, one soul. When we see a true example of togetherness in the Bible, it also takes the form of seventy.
Israel is seventy years young. We are still enjoying the excitement of youthful, rapid growth but now we will also be able to appreciate the wisdom that comes with years. My blessing for Israel on her 70th birthday is that like the united offspring of Jacob, we too experience harmony as a nation, while continuing to spread love of Israel and her people to the seventy nations. You are already true, dedicated friends of Israel, but there are many others who are not. But I am optimistic. If we, you and I together, continue spreading the messages of Israel among friends, family, whoever will listen, we will bring the 70 nations together in harmony and in line with what the G-d of Israel is doing today.
This year, Israel’s Independence Day marks a personal milestone for me as well. I am moving, a move that is both happy and sad for me. On the one hand, I am moving my family to Kfar Adumim, a wonderful community in Judea. On the other hand, this move will take me many kilometers away from our office in Karnei Shomron and so I had no choice but to leave my position as Assistant Director of CFOIC Heartland.
Since joining CFOIC Heartland in 2013, I have made the most wonderful friends, both Jewish and Christian, in Israel and all over the world. I have learned so much about a whole group of people, you our Christian friends, that I had not really known much about. I have come to value and appreciate the vital support we have from our Christian Zionist friends around the world, support that often comes with a love and passion that we rarely find anywhere else. As I make this move, the projects that CFOIC Heartland has supported in my new community will be constant reminders of you and your dedication to Israel and her people.
I will always cherish my time at CFOIC Heartland and there will always be a warm place in my heart for the wonderful friends I have made over the years. I would love it if you would keep in touch. If you would like to contact me please reach out to Sondra firstname.lastname@example.org and she will share my contact information with you.
So I’ll end my final email to you from CFOIC Heartland, not with a good-bye, but with L’hitraot (until we meet again). I’d love to see you if you are ever in Israel and you stop by Kfar Adumim.
Shalom from Judea!