Thousands celebrate Independence Day with OU Israel in Jerusalem

The celebration is the first in a series of events to mark the 40th year of the Orthodox Union’s presence in the State of Israel.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Special OU celebration and prayer for Independence Day.
Special OU celebration and prayer for Independence Day.
Elyashiv Aryeh Berman

Thousands of people gathered at First Station in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening to celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day in a special event organized by the Orthodox Union (OU) Israel. Most of the participants were recent immigrants to Israel and many were celebrating their first Independence Day in Israel.

The celebration was the first in a series of events to mark the 40th year of the Orthodox Union’s presence and contributions to the State of Israel. A special prayer and a selection of moving songs were led by the educator and musician Rabbi Shlomo Katz.

“As one who celebrated Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Independence Day) for many years in America, there simply is no comparison to the utter joy, and gratitude to celebrate here in Jerusalem," David, a recent immigrant from New Jersey, said. “There's so much joy and energy felt here, and deep connection to the State of Israel and the Jewish People. I am so overwhelmingly grateful to have merited to come to live my life in the one and only Jewish State.”

“The decision to come on aliya was one of the most complicated decisions of my life," said Simon, another recent immigrant from Montreal. "I lived in a wonderful community, I had a very successful career but it was clear to me that I needed to live my life here in Israel. This is my home, here with my people. Some of my family remains in Canada and every once in a while we go to visit them. But I am a Jew, and this is my State, and I pray that the rest of my family will one day soon join us here."

”It's so incredible to celebrate this 71st Yom Ha'Atzmaut together with thousands of our Jewish brothers and sisters here in Jerusalem," said OU Israel’s Executive Director Rabbi Avi Berman. "New immigrants alongside native Israelis, all gathered to thank G-d for the miracle that is our incredible State of Israel. We have the greatest country in the entire world- with a sophisticated military, a stable economy, burgeoning infrastructure, and the most incredible people in the entire world."

"We also thank G-d for forty years of the Orthodox Union’s presence and contributions here in Israel. The OU has merited to serve as a source of inspiration and support for tens of thousands of new immigrants, for youth, for individuals with special needs, and all segments of Israeli society. My wish for all of us is that the State of Israel should continue to blossom and flourish.”

Other prominent rabbinic leaders present included Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, founder and CEO of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, president and head of Ohr Torah Stone, former Knesset member Rabbi Dov Lipman, former president of the Rabbinical Council of America and OU Israel faculty member Rabbi Shmuel Goldin and Jerusalem Council member Arieh King.