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Yom Ha'atzmaut Special Edition - April 2014

"How was your Seder?" I asked an old friend last week.


"It was interesting," he reported. "It's been a struggle to get my (young adult) kids engaged. This year I noticed that my kids who have been to Israel were far more engaged in the Seder than those who hadn't made the trip. And that's funny because their Israel experiences had nothing to do with Passover ..."  


With Passover in the rear-view mirror, and Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) approaching, my friend's comments could not have been more timely. He experienced what the data tell us - connection with Israel is a critical component of American Jewish identity. Israel education matters less because Israel needs our advocacy but more because we need Israel to inform a full and rich Jewish life.

That is why our goal for Israel education is to instill in each learner a meaningful and personal connection with Israel. Now is a convenient and appropriate time to focus on Israel. But as regular subscribers to this newsletter know, our team of master educators led by Ilan Vitemberg and Vavi Toran work every day of the year to help educators and their students create an important place for Israel in students' hearts and minds.
In this Independence Day issue of our newsletter:
We feature an exciting new Israel curriculum. Using its Declaration of Independence as a foundation, we are partnering with five supplemental schools and four Jewish day schools to pilot "Tractate: Independence".

We are proud to announce a new installment of our Classic Israeli Bookshelf featuring beloved Israeli children's stories translated and adapted for American children. "Mitz Petel" ("Raspberry Juice") will premiere as a puppet show at the Israel Independence Day Celebration at the Oshman Family JCC on May 6.

We also offer resources for Yom Ha'zikaron (Israel's Remembrance Day), a futuristic and visual prediction for Israel@100, our popular Poster Tales exhibit and other educational materials and ideas to enhance Israel Education in your programs all year round.  

We hope that you find these helpful as you plan celebrations and explorations of this important time in the Jewish calendar and encourage you to forward this mail to your colleagues and staff.  

We wish you a meaningful Yom Ha'zikaron and a joyous Yom Ha'atzmaut!

David Waksberg
CEO, Jewish LearningWorks



Yom Ha'zikaron - Israel's Remembrance Day
Soon We Will Become a Song

Yom Ha'zikaron, which is commemorated this year on May 5th,  is Israel's Remembrance Day.  It is marked every year on the fourth of Iyar and precedes Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) by one day. The day is dedicated to commemorating the country's soldiers and members of security forces, the memory of the fallen from the pre-state undergrounds, and to victims of terrorism.


Yom Ha'zikaron was decreed by law in 1963, but the practice of commemorating the fallen on this day started in 1951 to mark the connection between Independence Day and the people who died to achieve and maintain this independence.


The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) radio station Galey Tzahal found a creative way to remember some of the fallen. Twelve years ago, as part of the commemorations on Yom Ha'zikaron, the radio station initiated a musical project named "Soon We Will Become a Song" (Od me'at nahafoch le'shir) in which prominent Israeli musicians volunteer to write scores for and perform songs written by soldiers who fell in the line of duty. Read More


Idan reichel soon we will be a song
Idan Reichel with a song by Reuven Politi

The poem "Mom, Dad and All the Rest" was written by 18 year old Reuven Politi, a sergeant who fell in the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, a few weeks after he wrote the poem. He was a fighter in the Egoz reconnaissance platoon, which went out on mission in the Golan Heights that day. He replaced a soldier friend who was delayed in getting to his platoon. 

We are no heroes

Our work is hard

The sun will set

Darkness will descend

Then, with our clothes on, we will rest in bed

Yes, Mom, it's important, it's hard and it's terrible


The Church Of Wisdom - Nothing's Gonna Hurt Me
The Church Of Wisdom with a song by Erez Shtark 

Erez Shtark, from Kiryat Ata, was 21 when he and 72 others were killed on the evening of February 4, 1997 in  "Ason Hamasokim," a crash between two helicopters in northern Israel.


Nothing's gonna hurt me, nothing

Not a woman nor a terrorist's bullet, nothing

That's what I swore to my brother, my sister, my parents

And I cried through the nights and worried during the days

'Cause I was scared that something will hurt my parents

And my father's voice has been echoing in my head for years:

If something is gonna happen to you

There's no point to my life

There's no reason for tomorrow.

If you are standing here over me

I guess I have not fulfilled my promise

I'm sorry.

I swear on my life.



Below are videos in Hebrew featured on Israeli TV Chanel 2, including interviews with family members and friends:


Yoni Bloch sings a song by Arik Karpental who fell in 1994 to an attack by terrorists


Yehuda Poliker sings a song by Avner Ditel who fell in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 


Gidi Gov sings a song by Nadav Harari who fell in the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War 1973


Eyal Golan sings a song by Eldad Regev who was abducted by Hezbollah members along with Ehud Goldwasser in 2006. In 2008 their remains were brought to Israel as part of a prisoners' exchange.


yomresourcesYom Ha'zikaron Resources


Yom Ha'zikaron - Degrees of Separation - lesson plan for teens from Makom


Red Flowers to Remember You By from the iCenter


Makom: The Price -Yom Ha'zikaron and the Helicopter Disaster from Makom


Israel and the Fallen Soldier - lesson plan from The Goodman Camping Initiative for Modern Israel History


Yom Ha'zikaron - Israel's Memorial Day from My Jewish Learning


Israel Education Initiative Newsletter - April 2013


Tractate Independence   
A New Curriculum

Tractate Independence is a collaborative effort between Jewish LearningWorks and the Jerusalem-based organization Rabbis for Human Rights.

Tractate Independence takes a Talmudic approach to the study of Israel's Declaration of Independence. It explores critical issues facing Israeli society through the lens of Jewish history and literature. The curriculum challenges the learner to discover the multifaceted reality of Israel in the context of its founding vision.

The educational program is comprised of two booklets: Text Study Pages and Lesson Plans.  The program focuses on two paragraphs in the Declaration: The first paragraph and the thirteenth paragraph and examines them through different lenses.  


Tractate Independence Sample Lessons


Intended for middle and high school students, this curriculum sample hones in on two lenses: 


Kam - Arose
The first line in the Declaration states:
"The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people." 
And in another translation:
"In the Land of Israel the Jewish people came into being." 
This lesson examine the meaning of the Hebrew verb kam used in the first line of Israel's Declaration of Independence. Though the official translation is "birthplace" and the Independence Hall's translation is "came into being," the word has a wealth of meanings.  Through sources ranging from the Biblical to the contemporary, students are encouraged to explore the connection between the Jewish people and its land.

Dror/Hofesh/Herut - Liberty

Paragraph thirteenth of the Declaration reads:

"The State of Israel...will be based on envisaged by the prophets of Israel".

This lesson explores the different meanings of freedom and its synonyms. A variety of texts from the Torah and prophets, to rabbinic, medieval and modern commentaries, legal covenants and poetry provide an opportunity to explore the value of freedom and its limitations.

Sample pages and lesson plans  

We are currently piloting the program in a few local schools.
To exploring this resource, please contact

Declaration of Independence Resources

Israeli Declaration of Independence from Wikipedia


Entire text of the declaration in English from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Historama - An Online History Shop


Establishment of the State from Jewish Virtual Library


Lesson Plan: Israel's Declaration of Independence from Israel Experts


Declaration of Independence - Sharing our values - lesson plan from The Goodman Camping Initiative for Modern Israel History


Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel (English subtitles)
Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel (English subtitles)



postertalesPoster Tales - Krazot Mesaprot

 Historical Israel Independence Day Posters

One of our most in-demand programs, is available as an exhibit and as an educational kit.

Poster Tales: Israel's Independence Day Posters is set against historical posters designed throughout the years for Israel's Independence Day. These posters offer a rare look into Israel's national mood and aspirations as well as an historic, design, and esthetic timeline. We encourage you to check it out.

For more info and booking: 


Peace for us as well
Poster by Eshchar Zichlinski
israelat100Israel @ 100
Poster Design Competition

Creatives in collaboration with Habetzefer, Israel's Advertising Agencies Academy, launched a poster design competition for Israel's 100th anniversary. 
That's right! Advertising designers were asked to use their imagination and project their vision of Israel in 34 years from today. So how did Israel fare in their view? Some saw a rise in religious orthodoxy, some visually commented on the region's failures to achieve peace, but we were happy to see that there were many optimistic predictions. 225 entries were submitted and judged by the public on Creatives' web site. The 20 finalists will be exhibited at Dizengoff Center for two weeks starting on May 1st.


What would your prediction or vision be for Israel @ 100?


Winning posters

All final candidates

Article in Israel Ha'yom (Israel Today) about the competition (in Hebrew)


Puppeteers Olson and Vitemberg with Lion and Giraffe 
Mitz Petel
New Puppet Show


Israel Education Initiative, in collaboration with Up A Tree Puppetry are proud to present another beloved Israeli story, the second installment in our project of creating the "Classic Israeli Bookshelf." 


Mitz Petel's World premiere will take place on May 6th, as a part of "Made in Israel" - Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration at the Palo Alto JCC. 


The show is suitable for kids ages 2-8 and is available in both English and Hebrew. 


Hand made puppets and set by Peter Olson. 





An educational program to accompany the show will be available next school year. Stay tuned!! 


For more information contact

Local Events

Israeli Society Through Literature with Rachel Korazim

Monday, April 28, 7:00 - 8:30pm

JCC, San Francisco

More Info


Exhibition: Wheat is Wheat is Wheat 

April 12 - June 15 

Israeli artist and designer Peddy Mergui's exhibition exploring design and ethics. 

Wednesday, May 7, 7:00 - 9:00pm

Peddy Mergui discusses his work

The Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco

More Info


Yom Ha'zikaron Memorial service

Monday, May 05, 8:30 am - 10:00 am
Jewish Community Federation, San Francisco


Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations in the Bay Area

Various locations and times


Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto


North Peninsula JCC, Foster City


Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael


Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco


Jewish Federation of the East Bay, Lafayette



An Evening with Author David Grossman 

Hear David Grossman speak about his book, "Falling Out of Time", an allegorical novel about a man in mourning

Friday, May 9, 7:00 pm

JCC, San Francisco

More Info


Exhibit: Arthur Szyk and the Art of the Haggadah

February 13-June 29, 2014 
Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco


Exhibit: Moments of Presence with My Beloved by YoHana Bat Adam

March 4-May 29  

Reception: Sunday, March 9, 6:30-8:30 PM

Palo Alto JCC 

YoHana Bat Adam's art touches the realm of the mysterious phenomenon we call God. YoHana uses her art as a platform to make viewers more aware of human spirituality and potential.

More Info 


To Build and Be Build: Kibbutz History

Ongoing until July 2014

Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco


More local Israeli events on Federation Community Calendar  

More local Israel related events on Consulate site   

Contact Jewish LearningWorks' 
Israel Education Initiative Team:
Ilan Vitemberg, Director
Vavi Toran, Arts & Culture Specialist