Happy 62nd, Israel!
Today is Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, which marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. Around the world, we celebrate this holiday on the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar. Below, I have compiled 62 great web resources on Israel in honor of Israel’s 62 years. There’s always more to learn about Israel, and these websites are a great place to start!
The Reform Movement and Israel
1. The URJ’s Israel webpage is a great place to start for all things Israel.
2. The URJ’s Yom Ha’atzmaut page features resources for the holiday and Israel in general.
3. ARZA is the Association of Reform Zionists of North America.
4. Learn more about the vibrant Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ).
Reform Judaism in Israel
5. There are two Reform kibbutzim in Israel. Kibbutz Yahel is a progressive, collective community in the Arava desert.
6. Located just south of Kibbutz Yahel, Kibbutz Lotan has a special focus on the environment and sustainability.
7. Kol HaNeshama, in the heart of Jerusalem is one of the nearly 30 Progressive synagogues in Israel.
8. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Jerusalem campus is the home of the Reform Movement’s Israeli Rabbinical Program, as well as the Year-In-Israel for first year students studying in HUC’s North American rabbinical, cantorial, and Jewish education programs.
North American Policy and Advocacy
9. Check out all of the RAC’s Israel resources at www.rac.org/israel!
10. Click here to fill out our action alert in support of Middle East Peace.
11. Write a letter to President Obama, asking him consider the ongoing plight of Gilad Shalit and do everything in his power to help free the imprisoned Israeli soldier.
12. AIPAC is “America’s Pro-Israel lobby,” based in Washington, D.C.
13. J Street is the “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” based in Washington, D.C.
14. Americans for Peace Now is the U.S. arm of the Shalom Achshav, an Israeli peace organization. APN is “working to achieve a comprehensive political settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
15. The Interagency Taskforce on Israeli Arab Issues was founded in response to the Or Commission to help advance the goal of equality between Israeli Jews and Arabs. The URJ and the CCAR are among the IATF’s more than 80 member organizations.
16. The Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) is an umbrella organization “dedicated to working collaboratively to assist students in fostering support for Israel on the college campus.”
17. Rabbis for Human Rights is an interdenominational group of clergy from all streams of Judaism. RHR “promotes discussion of human rights issues in the Jewish community by bringing speakers… into Jewish communities nation-wide, sends delegations to Israel to join our colleagues in protecting human rights in Israel, and supports the efforts of RHR to change Israeli policies that lead to human rights violations.”
18. President Obama issued a statement in honor of Independence Day. His full remarks are available below.
19. You can watch Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s Independence Day Greeting to Israel here. The State Department webpage frequently features speeches and releases regarding Israel.
20. The Israeli Embassy of Washington, D.C. is the U.S. portal into Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
21. The Official Knesset Webpage is an excellent resource for learning about the current status of legislation in Israel and the coalitions that comprise the Knesset.
Social Justice and Religious Pluralism in Israel
22. The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) is the RAC’s sister organization in Israel. Led by Anat Hoffman, IRAC works for social justice, human rights, religious pluralism, and civic equality in Israel on behalf of Progressive Judaism.
23. In the past several months, Israeli police have increased pressure on Women of the Wall, a progressive monthly prayer group that meets at the Western Wall. The URJ maintains a clearinghouse webpage with news, blog posts, statements, and educational resources regarding their fight for religious freedom.
24. Hiddush is a new religious freedom organization based in Israel.
25. The New Israel Fund is an NGO that grants funds to organizations working for social justice, human rights, civil liberties, and religious pluralism in Israel.
26. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) is Israel’s oldest and largest human rights organization.
27. Recently, North American leaders blocked legislation pending in the Knesset that would alter the Law of Return such that converts to Judaism would not be eligible for Israeli citizenship. The issue of conversion is central to equality for Progressive Judaism in Israel.
28. Yad LaKashish (Lifeline for the Old) is a non-profit organization that provides creative work opportunities and invaluable support services to over 300 needy elderly and disabled Jerusalem residents on a daily basis.
29. Leket Israel, Israel’s National Food Bank, works hard to address the problem of nutritional insecurity in the country.
30. Bema’aglei Tzedek (Circles of Justice) is a social justice organization in Israel focused on food and labor justice. One of their main projects is to award the Tav Chevrati, a seal of approval granted free of charge to restaurants and other businesses that respect the legally-mandated rights of their employees and are accessible to people with disabilities.
31. Sikkuy: The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel is an NGO working for Jewish-Arab equality. Their academic studies are excellent resources.
Middle East Commentary and Blogs
32. Hanan Cidor, the URJ Youth Division Shaliach, writes an insightful blog called It’s an Israel Thing.
33. Bitterlemons.org is a website that presents Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints on prominent issues of concern. It focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process.
34. Myths, Illusions, & Peace is a blog maintained by Middle East expert David Makovsky.
35. The Galilee Diary: Israel Up Close and Personal is a weekly diary especially for educators and teachers in Reform congregations. It also appears weekly through Ten Minutes of Torah and on the URJ blog.
36. The Israel Policy Forum is an advocacy think tank that “promotes active U.S. engagement to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace and security for Israel with the Palestinians and the Arab states.”
37. Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel provides current news and commentary on the region.
38. The Taub Center for Israel Studies at New York University was established in 2003 with the support of the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, to advance the study of Modern Israel: its recent history, society and politics, together with the history of the Zionist movement and the Yishuv.
39. Prospects for Peace is an insightful blog by Middle East commentator Daniel Levy.
40. Haaretz is a daily newspaper published in English and Hebrew.
41. The Jerusalem Post is a daily newspaper, also published in both languages.
42. Yediot Ahranot is another great news source.
43. The New York Times Israel topic page. All Israel-related articles published in the New York Times appear here.
44. The Daily Alert is a digest compiled from a broad range of respected news sources. To all those interested in keeping abreast of the latest on Israel, Iran, and issues of importance to the world Jewish community, I recommend subscribing to the Daily Alert.
46. With Kesher Birthright, 18-25 year olds can travel for free to Israel with other young adults from the Reform Movement
47. MASA Israel, a project of the government of Israel, the Jewish Agency of Israel, provides young adults with funds to travel and study long term in Israel. It’s also a great resource to learn about the variety of Israel programs that exist.
48. Egged is the main public bus provider in Israel, both inter- and intra-city. Use their webpage to map out the best way to get around and see the country!
49. Google Maps is now fully equipped to help you navigate around Israel. Type in 13 David HaMelech, Jerusalem, Israel (the location of HUC Jerusalem) and you can use all the mapping, direction, and satellite features available in North America.
Art, Culture, and Education
50. Sicha Basadeh is a webpage full of interactive, experiential and creative Israel programming.
51. The Idan Raichel Project is an internationally renowned Israeli music group.
52. Myjewishlearning.com is an excellent resource on a broad variety of subjects, and maintains an Israel resource page.
53. Bring the flavor of Aroma home – this Israeli coffee chain is now open in several locations in North America!
54. If you prefer coffee to tea, Wissotsky Tea is another delicious way to enjoy a taste of Israel.
55. Subliminal, an internationally renowned Israeli hip hop group, teamed up with the Gevatron, Israel’s oldest folk choir, to remix an old Israeli folk song in honor of Israel’s 60th birthday.
56. Galgalatz is the top radio station in Israel. Listen online anytime – listening to music is a great way to practice Hebrew!
57. Milon Morfix is the by far the best online Hebrew dictionary. You can translate from Hebrew to English and English to Hebrew. Zeh tov m’od!
58. Omanoot is an excellent blog in English about current Israeli culture – arts, music, educational materials, and more.
59. Founded in 1993 by journalist John Wallach, Seeds of Peace is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence.
60. The Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI) works to foster interreligious relationships across the many religious denominations in Israel.
61. The Arava Institute is an environmental studies and coexistence program that brings together Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, and North American students to engage in the conflict through the lens of transboundary, shared environmental resources and challenges.
62. Adam Teva v’Din, or Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) is Israel’s leading environmental advocacy organization.
What’s your favorite web resource on Israel? Email it to me or leave us a comment, and I’ll continue to update this list! Chag Ha’atzmaut Sameach, and happy 62nd, Israel!
On the 62nd Anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, I join the American people in congratulating the government and people of Israel on this celebration of their independence. Minutes after David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence, realizing the dream of a state for the Jewish people in their historic homeland, the United States became the first country to recognize Israel. To this day, we continue to share a strong, unbreakable bond of friendship between our two nations, anchored by the United States’ enduring commitment to Israel’s security. Israel remains our important partner and key strategic ally in the Middle East, and I am confident that our special relationship will only be strengthened in the months and years to come.
I look forward to continuing our efforts with Israel to achieve comprehensive peace and security in the region, including a two-state solution, and to working together to counter the forces that threaten Israel, the United States, and the world. On this day, we once again honor the extraordinary achievements of the people of Israel, and their deep and abiding friendship with the American people. I offer my best wishes to President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the people of Israel as they celebrate this happy occasion.