Seventy years is like being a teenager for a new country. For a growing country like Israel who is celebrating her 70th year in existence, there are many ways to measure her growth. Simple statistics, like how Israel was only 800,000 residents in 1948 and today is home to over 8 million souls is astounding. Only 30,000 newborns were delivered in 1948, and in 2017, the state was blessed with 181,000 new children. Since 1948, over 2.3 million immigrants have emigrated to Israel.
However, the growth of Israel is about noticing more than just the numbers, because no matter how old Israel is, she is still a young country who is not only growing with people, but with power. Like every teenager turned adult, with every new responsibility comes growing pains. In 1948, only 6% of the Jewish population was living in Israel. In 2014, Israel hosted over 57% of the Jewish population.
Though we only have one state to celebrate, the beauty of Israel is in its diversity, its culture, its history and its future. As millions around the world celebrate Israel and her independence, may we all remember to celebrate our own independence – to take responsibility for our actions, to live morally, and to live by the most basic of human values which are so deeply entrenched in the core of being Jewish – be kind, be curious and be respectful.
In order to truly celebrate our independence, we must continue to grow, learn and live by our values, and lead by example. Israel as a country might be young, but she is wise beyond her years.
It’s not just about the statistics. It’s about the soul of Israel, and what this country represents. It’s the hardships and challenges it has overcome, and those it is still seeking solutions and innovations for. Seventy years, in the span of history, is significant if only to remind us to remember our past, and age gracefully with a large dose of gratitude, independence and celebration.