Israel's 60th anniversary was celebrated on the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem campus with two memorable events on May 5, 2008.
Some 900 Israeli youths in pre-Army and Army programs took over the HUC-JIR-Beit Shmuel-Mercaz Shimshon campus on May 5 for a full day of presentations, study, reflection, and celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary in light of the challenge of "Tzedek and Tzedakah: Justice and Social Responsibility."
This event was organized by Rabbi Nava Hefetz, Educational Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, who was ordained at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem in 2006 and brought a full range of rabbis, social activists, politicians, media professionals to participate in the programs. Many graduates of HUC-JIR's Israeli Rabbinical Program taught in the massive Beit Midrash in the afternoon.
The day ended in the HUC-JIR courtyard, as Rabbi Levi Weiman Kelman, student rabbi Oded Mazor, and Associate Dean Rabbi Naamah Kelman conducted a special Yom Haatzmaut Seder, with Reform Mechinah kids playing guitar. The energetic expressions of love and peace and hope were memorable.
On the same day, stateside students in the HUC-JIR Year-In-Israel Program mingled with Israeli Rabbinical and Education Program students in a day devoted to study and reflection. It began with a jointly led Tefillah (morning service), during which the 'Torah' reading was the reading in Hebrew of the Israeli Declaration of Independence by Israeli and stateside students.
Study sessions explored a broad range of topics, including "State Symbols: Flag, Anthem, and More," "Classic Hebrew Children's Books," "The Newspapers and Radio 'Found the State' in 1948;" "Agnon and the Resurrection of the Hebrew Language," "Archaeology, Politics and Zionism," "60 Years of Israeli Music," and "Creating Meaningful Yom HaShoah and Yom HaAtma'ut Observances in Diaspora Synagogues."