Midwest Yom Haatzmaut

Max Miller | Rosh Pirsum, Chicago

As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives, one thing has remained the same, and will continue to remain the same forever- our love for Israel, the Jewish homeland. Chicago’s festivities looked a bit different this year- although we usually host a large event with music and food to celebrate the birthday of Israel, we instead partnered with the YU Torah MiTzion Kollel of Chicago and various other organizations (including Moshava Wild Rose!) over Zoom to bring the Chicago community some much-needed celebration. The upper Tzevet of Bnei Akiva Chicago read brief bios of each of Israel’s torchbearers for this year’s holiday to an audience of nearly 300 viewers. In addition, we have ensured that families at home have the materials needed for this years Yom HaAtzmaut by emailing everyone the beautiful banners and graphics Bnei Akiva of US & Canada put together.

Overall, although this year’s Yom HaAtzmaut looked drastically different than previous years, the sense of Jewish Pride and the love for the State of Israel was still as apparent as ever.

Chag Sameach!

Benji Marcus | Mazkir, Pittsburgh

This past Tuesday night, Bnei Akiva of Pittsburgh had our annual Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut Tekes. This year due to obvious circumstances we were not able to host the ceremony in person and therefore Zoom was our go-to. Even though BANA and BAbabyit hosted an incredible Tekes, we decided it would be important for members of our Pittsburgh community to experience a special Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut experience, especially those who wouldn’t have gone to a ceremony otherwise.

We began the Tekes with a traditional introduction and siren, followed by stories, poems, and videos of fallen soldiers and those who lost their lives in terrorist attacks. Then, we heard the prayer for the IDF and the State followed by a prayer for the return of missing soldiers. We wrapped up Yom Hazikaron with a fantastic video made by members of Bnei Akiva of Florida hadracha.

As we transitioned into the celebration and joy of Yom Ha’atzmaut we heard from Rachelle Fraenkel, mother of fallen soldier Naftali Fraenkel and a torah educator, about the significance of the transition from one yom tov to the next. Afterwards, the historic video of David Ben-Gurion declaring the independence of the Jewish state from the British mandate was played, and our Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration portion had begun. Special guest Joey Senders (nephew of THE Linda Joshowitz and member of the Y-studs) serenaded us in Mi She’asah Nissim, Zeh Hayom, and finally a rendition of Shir Hamaalot to the tune of Hatikvah. We capped off our tekes with a special video from former Pittsburghers who made aliyah. We asked what inspired them to make aliyah and what their favourite part of living in Eretz Yisrael is. At the end, we played a video from our Bnot Sherut past and present, wishing our community a big chag sameach!

Overall our tekes was a resounding success with 100+ participants. But it could not have been possible on such short notice without help from our incredible madrichim, manhigut, editors, and our volunteer coordinator!

Gavriella Jacobs | Rosh PR, Cleveland 

Together with the rest of the Cleveland community, Bnei Akiva commemorated Yom Hazikaron followed by celebrating Yom Haatzmaut over zoom. In remembrance of the fallen IDF soldiers, the Yom Hazikaron tekes focused on the Peretz family. We were inspired by Miriam Peretz’s strength in her belief in Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael despite having lost her two sons in combat and husband afterward. After watching the Peretz family video and hearing the eulogy Miriam read at her husband’s funeral, Rav Pachino, head of the Community Beit Midrash, spoke on a more personal note. He told stories of close friends he lost in the IDF and reiterated the importance of staying firm in our love for Israel. Following the conclusion of Yom Hazikaron, we sprung into action and celebrated Israel’s 72nd birthday by recreating the annual community celebration over zoom. First, we listened to a panel of those in our community who made Aliya including the Fried family, Ari Bar Shain, Shira Roth, and soon-to-make-Aliya Dovid Ben-Tor. Afterward, we performed a virtual candle lighting ceremony to celebrate all the members of the community heading to Israel next year (some returning, some making Aliya and others excited to spend the year in Yeshiva and Seminary) including the Goldblatt family, Deutsch family, Cashdan family, Bnot Sherut Inball and Tamar, and 2020 seniors. Next, Camp Stone director and former Clevelander Yaakov Fleischmann sang a beautiful acoustic Hatikva. To conclude the ceremonies, the wonderful Cleveland shlichim lead a parade around town to spread the joy social-distancing style. We had such a meaningful holiday with our Bnei Akiva community!