Yom Haatsmaut Reflection  5 Iyyar 5778  April 19 2018
David Bernat, PhD, Executive Director


Jewish tradition, as expressed in Psalm 90, imagines 70 years to be a discrete lifespan. In addition, scripture indicates that David, the founding king of our nation lived for 70 years (2 Samuel 5:4). He embodies, symbolically, our communal strength and utopian aspirations. Today, on the 5th of Iyyar, we mark the 70th year of Medinat Yisrael, the modern State of Israel, and look forward to the next stage in the life of our homeland. 

1948 represented the awe-inspiring fulfilment of a 2000 year hope. Yet, must we be, in the words of the prophet Zechariah (9:12), asirei hatikvah, “prisoners of hope?”  As we walk forward with optimism, can we not also recognize where the real has not met the ideal, where there is still work to be done?

As the head of an agency whose mission is framed by a commitment to Arevut, interconnectedness, and Klal Yisrael, unity and pluralism, I am particularly concerned about the way Israel’s government undercuts these values with its Kotel policies. I am similarly dismayed by the marginalization of communities, institutions, and congregations that do not conform to the narrow norms of an entrenched Rabbinic establishment.  Closer to home, resurgent anti-Semitism and the contagion of BDS casts a shadow on our festivities.

At Synagogue Council, we are doubling down on our engagement with Israel. Toward that end, our next Israel Experience and Unity Mission, “The Synagogue Then and Now” in tandem with Hebrew College’s Adult Learning Department and Keshet Educational Journeys, embarks in less than a year. On the local front, we have been working hand in glove with CJP and the IAC, and are taking steps toward a deeper relationship with other established agencies such as Hadassah and JNF.  We are especially proud of, and enthusiastic about, our newest partnerships with two innovative forward looking Israeli organizations, Ve’Ahavta TLV Experience, and Dror Israel.

I urge you to stay connected with SCM, as we endeavor to serve the community, grow our capacity, and roll out an arc of exciting, substantive programs. In the meanwhile, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday May 6 at the community-wide Celebrate Israel at 70 gathering and on June 3 at our keynote event, “Empowering Women’s Leadership,” where we launch an initiative to incubate women’s mentorship and young leadership on the congregational landscape, honoring the memory and legacy of Anita Redner z”l.