What can you give your country for its 70th anniversary? For thousands of school pupils and volunteers, the answer is the sweat of their brows as they worked to prepare a new public 70-kilometer (43-mile) walking path called the Sanhedrin Trail.
As a byproduct of their backbreaking work, they also stumbled upon a priceless 1,400-year-old intact oil lamp engraved with an eight-armed menorah, remains of important glass industry, and an extremely rare gold coin from Suleiman the Magnificent.
The legendary silver-played kiddush cup that the Lubavitcher Rebbe used at Shabbat and holiday meals will be put up for auction.
Many stories are told about people who were saved from the Rebbe's blessings on this occasion. The Kedem auction house holds a certificate from one of the Rebbe's relatives, indicating that the Rebbe's cup be put up for sale for a period of time.
President Rivlin's Speech at March of the Living Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott participating in the March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 12, 2018.
President Reuven Rivlin, for Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day on Thursday, traveled to Poland to lead the 30th annual March of the Living from the gates of Auschwitz to Auschwitz-Birkenau. This year it was entitled "From Holocaust to Revival".
The President was accompanied by leaders of Israel's security services: IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott, Chief of Police Roni Alsheikh, Israel Security Agency Head Nadav Argaman, and Mossad Director Yossi Cohen. Around 12,000 young people from around the world, Jews and non-Jews joined the March.
Before the March, the President toured the museum established at the Auschwitz Extermination Camp, during which he visited the Hall of Names. There he asked to locate the names of members of the Rivlin family, as well as the names of German Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon who was murdered in the camp in 1943, Polish Jewish author and teacher, and Itzhak Katzenelson who was murdered in 1944.
On the March's arrival to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the President addressed the official memorial ceremony which included songs of remembrance by Shlomo Artzi whose mother Margalit survived Auschwitz and passed away just this year. There were also tributes to Survivors of the Holocaust and to Righteous Among the Nations who helped save Jews, as well as the lighting of the Torch of Remembrance by President Rivlin, accompanied by the heads of the Israeli security forces.
In his address, President Rivlin began, "Sh'ma Yisrael ̶ Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." "Sh'ma Yisrael ̶ Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." So our brothers and sisters cried out, here, in this very place. I can close my eyes and still hear the weeping of the mothers as their children were ripped from their arms. I see the horror of the fathers as their loved ones were burned before their eyes. The accursed 'selection' process; for life, or for death. The barking of the dogs. The blood-curdling orders of the guards: "Schnell, Schnell", quickly, quickly. They killed the Jews Quickly, quickly. "A person was taken off the train in the morning," wrote Raoul Hilberg, "and in the evening his body was cremated and his clothes packaged up, ready to be sent to Germany." From the time this railway line by which we now stand, was laid down, from the spring of 1944, the Auschwitz train station became the busiest train station in all of Europe. The extermination process became ever shorter, from one whole day to four hours. Four hours, and whole lives went up in smoke. Loves, fears, beliefs, hopes, pain, memory: For Nazi Germany, they were merely numbers, without any identity or name. Germanic efficiency was exploited to the full. In Auschwitz alone, some one million, one hundred thousand human beings were tortured, slaughtered, murdered, cremated, and erased from the face of the earth. One million of them were Jews."
He continued, "We stand here and we know, that from this place we cannot hope for justice. In this place ̶ where the ashes of our brothers and sisters were swallowed by the soil ̶ no justice will grow.We do not expect justice in Europe that seeks – too quickly – to forget, to eradicate the memory, to deny, to destroy evidence. But, our memory, the memory of the Jewish People, is the antithesis of the haste of the Nazis. We are a nation that remembers, our memory is patient.Everything done to us by Amalek is engraved in our memory, the memory of an ancient nation. Also engraved in our memory are those who helped Amalek. Those who stood to the side, those who saw the smoking chimneys, those who heard the cries, but never lifted a finger. Engraved in our memory are those who murdered and then inherited. Engraved in our memory are those who, after the end of the War, thought that Jewish blood is cheap, is forsaken, and so they slaughtered those Jews who returned to their homes.There is the Holocaust, there are those who want to deny the Holocaust and those that want to forget the Holocaust. The difference between them – is the truth. And we, who remember, we who stand here, we know, the truth will grow out of the earth."
The President turned to President Duda of Poland who had accompanied him on the March, and said, "Your Excellency, President of Poland, The Polish nation barely survived the Second World War. In September 1939, Poland had become the greatest field of death, murder and destruction in Europe. It was an area under Nazi occupation, and the Poles were an oppressed people, living in fear. There was also a Polish underground resistance and a Polish Government in exile. The people of Poland produced thousands of "Righteous among the Nations". Men and women who put their own lives and the lives of their dear ones at risk for the sake of others. And they too are remembered, and we will remember and honour each of those men and women forever. Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny the truth. The Nazi death machine would not have been able to achieve its terrible vision, if it had not received help; if it had not found a fertile ground of hatred for Jews, in which to take root. True, it was Germany that established the Camps, but our People were not murdered only in the camps. The members of our nation were betrayed by the people amongst whom they lived, in France, in Holland, and in Belgium. They were murdered by Ukrainians, Lithuanians and yes ̶ also by Poles. Too many citizens, in Eastern Europe and in Western Europe, stole Jewish property, took control of Jewish homes, handed over their Jewish neighbors, murdered them, and turned their backs on those who, just a moment before, had been a part of them. And when the survivors of the Holocaust returned after the war, they were sometimes met with hostility, violence, pogroms and murder."
The President stressed, "Polish people were killed and murdered in the cruel War, we, the Jews, were slaughtered in the Holocaust. A Holocaust that included not only concentration camps, but also killing pits, ghettoes, forced labor, and pogroms. A Holocaust that included the slaughter and murder and death through torture, of one and a half million babies and children, whose only sin was that they were born Jewish. It is the right of every nation – to rewrite sections of its own narrative. It is permitted for every nation, it is fitting that every nation – should rebuild itself from its ruins. I do not want to interfere in Polish history. Poland knows how to do its own soul searching.However, if the Polish People feels that its image has been distorted by the events of the Holocaust, it is more important that we cooperate, that we invest in education, that together we establish research institutes, that together we work on commemoration and remembrance, that together, we, Poles and Jews, study what happened, that we make sure that it will never happen again."
He continued, "Hans Frank, the German Governor of the Generalgouvernement, said at the Nirenberg Trials: "A thousand years may pass, but still Germany's guilt will not have been erased." A thousand years.Germany did not purchase the forgiveness of the Jews, just as no nation can legislate their forgetting. For no legislation can cover over the blood. No self-interest can cover over anti-Semitism, racism, hatred of the other. Not in Austria, not in France, not in Holland not in Belgium, and above all, not in Germany.But those who are willing to bravely look straight into their past, those who are willing to bravely deal with the anti-Semitism and the racism that continue to raise their heads even today will find in us allies, determined, true partners to pave the way that leads from remembrance to the future.
"We shall always remember, from generation to generation, the amazing goodness of the thousands of men and women who risked their own lives in order to save others. We shall always remember the horrifying, human evil of the Nazis, and their collaborators from all nations. We shall always remember the members of our nation, each man, each woman, by their names, in their lives and not only in their deaths. We shall remember their narratives, their customs, their everyday lives. What they liked to read, what they studied, what they dreamed of becoming and of doing. Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, but for us, they will never be a number. Year by year, we discover more details about them, and our one and only aim is to know ̶ not only that "To every person there is a name", but what was their name? Who were they? How did they live? and how did they die? It will take time ̶ but we will know. We shall continue to plumb the depths of remembrance, in Germany, in Austria, in Ukraine, in Poland, in Hungary, in Greece, in each and every place. The archives, the testimonies, and the silences, every one of them will eventually be revealed. There are here with us today, survivors, whose bodies and souls testify to those horrors to this day. They will hand on to us the torch of memory, and we shall carry it from generation to generation."
The President concluded, "I stand here today as President of the State of Israel, the State of the Jewish People, on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day. Seventy-five years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; Seventy years since the establishment of the State of Israel; the Thirtieth anniversary of the March of the Living. Thirty years ago the first March of the Living took place, and every year since then, in close cooperation with the Polish Government and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, more than a quarter of a million young Jews and non-Jews have marched here. And today, we marched with them. Survivors of the Holocaust, people who escaped the Holocaust, living witnesses, all marched before us. And with them marched leaders of Israel's security forces, commanders of the IDF, of the Israel Security Agency, of the Mossad, the Israel Police, with young people from all over the world. We did not march from Auschwitz to Birkenau. We did not march from Auschwitz 1 to Auschwitz 2. We marched from death to life. We marched from the Holocaust to the Revival. We marched from Auschwitz to Jerusalem.Each footstep in this march was a step in the history of the Jewish People. An ancient and surviving nation, that has been blessed with enormous powers of creativity; of both spiritual and practical strengths. A nation that was privileged to return to its homeland, after two thousand years of exile, and to rebuild there its national home as a free people among the family of nations. The nation that was born through God's command to Abraham to "Go forth," and continues to go forward, to walk in the March of the Living. Continues to affirm, "Here I am", here, I am still alive. Am Yisrael Chai! ̶ The People of Israel lives!"
Following a year of work, the Jerusalem Municipality completed the project to upgrade the roofs of Mahane Yehuda market. The project, which costs about NIS 18 million, was shared by the Ministry of Tourism and the Jerusalem Municipality through Eden. The entire project was carried out in cooperation with the market merchants represented by the chairman of the merchants' committee at the site.
The Mahane Yehuda market is flourishing economically and culturally as it has not been for many years thanks to the combination of hands between the merchants, the local business owners and the Jerusalem Municipality. The market has become a magnet for many visitors outside of Jerusalem and a great success story that symbolizes the awakening of the city center. In the market there is a Jerusalem mix of businesses, restaurants and unique nightlife. All these attracted visitors and travelers from all over the country, who brought about economic and business prosperity. The evidence for this is the tremendous demand for opening businesses in the market.
Eden notes that the market has high business potential, in view of its strategic location between its traffic-generating and attractive routes as a commercial center. Today there are 30,000 square meters of commercial space, with the diverse business mix including traditional businesses (food, clothing, clothing and footwear), new businesses such as boutique stores, gourmet restaurants and other businesses.
Mayor Nir Barkat said: "There is no resident in Israel or a visitor from the world who has not heard of the tremendous success of the Mahane Yehuda market in recent years, which was made possible thanks to the cooperation of the business owners, the government and the municipality. New ventilation and lighting systems and invites everyone, come to the market for a Jerusalem experience - buy to spend and visit "
CEO of Eden - Jerusalem Economic Development Company, Alon Spizer: "We have actually completed the first stage of upgrading the Mahane Yehuda market. We replaced the old roof with a brand new roof, treated gutters and fillings, replaced old-fashioned ventilators with modern air-conditioners, and the lighting in the covered market was replaced by new lighting with cutting-edge LED technology. In the next stage, we intend to deal thoroughly with the lighting on the main street of the market - Mahane Yehuda Street. The goal is ultimately to improve the experience of wandering in the market, summer and winter, day and night. This is part of our ongoing activity to create a cultural-tourist axis in the city center. It is assumed that the many people who come to spend time and make arrangements in the market, will also reach other parts of the city center and will contribute, among other things, to trading in the entire region. It is important to note that the entire project was carried out with the full cooperation of the merchants headed by Nino Peretz. "
While Tel Aviv is known around the world for its technology startups, restaurants and nightlife, art galleries and architecture, its history is often overlooked.
As Israel's 70th anniversary approaches, a new interactive tourist site aims to change that, focusing on two of the most crucial events in the story of modern Israel: the birth of Tel Aviv in 1909 and the birth of Israel itself in 1948.
The one-kilometer Independence Trail takes visitors past 10 heritage sites connected by a golden path that snakes through the streets of Tel Aviv. It will open on April 18, the eve of Israel's Independence Day, free of charge to the public.
The walking trail, a joint project by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, required several months of infrastructure work including the installation of a lighting system for nighttime visitors.
An interactive mobile app guides visitors through each of Tel Aviv's heritage sites. Photo by Ricky Rachman
"Tel Aviv, the First Hebrew City, is named after the Hebrew title of Theodor Herzl's book Altneuland, outlining Herzl's vision for a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. In accordance with its name, the history of Tel Aviv embodies as a microcosm of the history of Zionism and the young State of Israel," said Minister of Heritage and Jerusalem Ze'ev Elkin.
"The new attraction will allow everyone, Israeli and tourists, to dive into the fascinating chapters of the story of the establishment of the State of Israel, right at the center of Tel Aviv."
Inspired by the Freedom Trail in Boston, which takes visitors through the history of the American Revolution, the Independence Trail uses a unique mobile app to educate visitors about each of Tel Aviv's heritage sites.
At each of the 10 stops, information about the location will appear on the visitor's device, explaining its historical context and background. Visitors can also guide themselves along the trail using a map available in eight languages: Hebrew, English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.
The trail begins at the intersection of tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard and Herzl Street, home to Tel Aviv's first kiosk. Established in 1910, the location quickly became a central meeting place for locals. During the 1920s, around 100 kiosks operated in the city under the association of the kiosk and soft-drink store owners. Today, the original kiosk serves as an espresso bar, centrally located among Tel Aviv's most popular bars and restaurants.
The first kiosk. Photo by Nicky Blackburn
The second stop takes visitors to the Nahum Gutman Fountain, decorated with mosaics that tell the history of Jaffa – the ancient port city from which Tel Aviv was born. The mosaic was created by Israeli artist Nachum Gutman, who grew up in Tel Aviv along with the new city, and reflected the simplicity of the early days of the first Hebrew city. Gutman helped pioneer a distinctly Israeli style of art and was awarded the Israel Prize in 1978.
Nahum Gutman Fountain. Photo by Ricky Rachman
The third stop on the trail is the home of Akiva Aryeh Weiss, founder of the city's first neighborhood, Ahuzat Bayit, which later evolved into modern-day Tel Aviv. As president of the then newly established Building Society, Weiss presided over the 1909 lottery in which 66 Jewish families drew numbers written on seashells to determine the allocation of lots in the future city of Tel Aviv.
From there, the trail continues to the site where the first Hebrew-speaking high school, the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium, once stood. Located on Herzl Street, the building was a major Tel Aviv landmark until 1962, when the site was demolished for the construction of the Shalom Meir Tower. Today, the Shalom Tower is home to a visitors center about the history of Tel Aviv, open free to the public on weekdays.
Next, visitors arrive at the Great Synagogue on Allenby Street, the spiritual and religious center of the first Hebrew city. The building features a huge dome, elaborate lighting fixtures and stained glass windows.
The Tel Aviv Great Synagogue. Photo by Ricky Rachman
The nearby Hagana Museum is the sixth stop on the trail, located in the former home of Eliyahu Golomb, the founder of the pre-state Jewish military force that later evolved into the Israel Defense Force (IDF). From 1930 to 1945, the building was used as Hagana's secret headquarters. The museum will offer free public entry during 2018, in honor of Israel's 70th anniversary.
The next stop is the Bank of Israel Visitors Center. The center presents the history of the financial system in Israel and displays an extensive exhibition of banknotes and coins issued throughout pre-state days to the present. The center is also offering free public entry to mark Israel's 70th anniversary.
The trail then heads to the Tel Aviv Founders Monument on Rothschild Boulevard, dedicated to the men and women who established Tel Aviv in the first half of the 19th century.
Tel Aviv Founders Monument. Photo by Ricky Rachman
The trail continues at the statue of Meir Dizengoff, Tel Aviv's first mayor. He was known for riding his horse from his home to City Hall, then located on Bialik Street. The statue was created by artist David Zondolovitz and unveiled in front of Dizengoff's historic residence, Rothschild Boulevard 16, in 2009.
Meir Dizengoff statue by artist David Zondolovitz. Photo by Ricky Rachman
The Independence Trail ends across the street at Independence Hall, where on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion read aloud the Declaration of Independence as Israel was declared an independent Jewish state.
Yehoshua Friedberg – 25 Years of a Nightmare Called Yesterday
In honor of Yehoshua Friedberg and all the 23,645 fallen who gave their lives for this amazing country.
Every year, around a month before memorial day hits, a feeling of nervousness and fear comes over me. It is not fear of physical danger and it is not fear for the future. It is fear of the present in the purest form.
See, for the past 25 years, I have been invited to different forums to speak of my friend, my platoon mate and a role model for many.
His name was Yehoshua Friedberg.
He was an amazing friend, a good person, and one of the best IDF soldiers I ever knew and served with. He was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists and it seems like yesterday…
Every year I sit for hours and sometimes through the night trying to write a speech in memory and in honor of Yehoshua and I am always terrified that I will not find the words to do him justice. Will I my words sink in for those who are listening? Will I be able to get the message across? Is it at all possible to describe in words the amazing person Yehoshua was? Will I be able to finish speaking without choking on my own tears? It is a feeling of fear that causes me tremendous stress as memorial closes in.
Maybe this year I won't speak…..
NO! I can't do that to Yehoshua! and then I begin to write again for several minutes and again I angrily crush the paper…WHY DID IT HAPPEN?! DAMMIT, I HATE THIS!
I am not even speaking to anyone and I am already choking up! WHY!
I hate the siren, I despise it and yet it is something that I look forward to every year.
When the siren screams, I close my eyes and I can clearly see Yehoshua's body, lifeless! 25 years might have gone by but the wound is fresh and it is a nightmare that never ends.
The siren wails for two minutes and I, every year, relive the nightmare of finding Yehoshua lifeless body….
WHEN IS THIS SIREN GOING TO STOP! I don't want to relive this again…but as I close my eyes, I am back there!
I am back in that horrible place again. A nightmare from 25 years ago and it feels like yesterday.
I am on Yehoshua and I pounding his chest, screaming; WAKE UP DAMMIT! WAKE UP! PLEASE! SOMEONE STOP THE SIREN! I DON'T WANT TO SEE THIS AGAIN!
But the siren does not die, it only gets stronger…. the knife is cutting deeper and the memories are hurting so bad.
Every year, I relive it…every year, we all relive it!
And my eyes gently close and I am back in the nightmare again.
The officer came into our tent to ask us, the Lone Soldiers, if we know where Yehoshua is. At the time we could not even fathom the downward turn our lives were about to take and we certainly could not possibly imagine in our worst nightmare Yehoshua's fate.
We looked the officer straight in the face and answered him without the smallest amount of concern;, "of course, we know where Yehoshua is, he went for tests to be accepted to IDF officer's course and he spent Shabbat in Jerusalem with his fiancee."
The officer looked at us and there was a deafening silence. "Guys, they found Yehoshua's personal belongings on the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv."
"So what! We said…" he lost his stuff…big deal…. "
I don't want to. relive this again, so I open my eyes hoping to wake up…. THAT DAMN SIREN! SOMEONE STOP THE SIREN, I DON'T WANT TO LIVE THIS AGAIN…. I WANT TO WAKE UP!
But, the siren screams louder and I close my eyes again and I am back in the nightmare.
The officer tells us that we are going out for search parties.
We look at each other puzzled and ask, "Search parties? For what?"
The officer looks at us and we can see the pain in his eyes as he tells us that the IDF is working under the assumption that Yehoshua was kidnapped by terrorists….
STOP THE SIREN!!
We searched in the pouring rain for 3 days….and then we found him…but….. PLEASE STOP THE SIREN! I DON'T WANT TO SEE THIS AGAI….my eyes close slowly and I am back in the nightmare….again.
Is it the siren I am hearing now or is me screaming in the nightmare when I realized Yehoshua was gone?
My eyes close again and tears stream down my face… and I am back in the nightmare again… We rolled Yehoshua's lifeless body over and try CPR… WAKE UP DAMMIT! WAKE UP! WAAAKKKEEEE U…..He's gone…NOO!!! WAKE UP! Is that the siren or is it me crying? Yehoshua's body is lifted on to the IDF truck and as the truck drives away…the siren is finally dying down….I open my eyes but I can still hear the siren….it never goes away….. Yehoshua Friedberg, dearly missed, NEVER forgotten.
He came to Israel while others were running away (1st Gulf war). He drafted to the IDF at an age when most soldiers were finishing up their service – 24. He put his people and land before his own safety. We continue to cry over his death and yet we continue to live with the torch he lit by the way he lived.
Israel's population on the eve of the country's 70th birthday stands at 8.84 million according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 10 times more than it was in May 1948, when the population was just 806,000.
The Jewish population now stands at 6.59 million (74.5% of the total), the Arab population is 1.85 million (20.9%), and others (including Christians, or members of other religions) make up 404,000 (4.6%) of the population.
Over the last year, Israel's population grew by 163,000 people, some 28,000 of them new immigrants to the country.
Since Israel was founded, over 3.2 million people have immigrated to the country – most arriving in the 1950s, when the population doubled within four years, and then again in the 1990s, as nearly one million immigrants from the Former Soviet Union made their way to Israel.
Over the last 70 years, Israel has undergone massive societal changes. In 1948, the average life expectancy in Israel was 64 years for men, and 67 for women. Today that figure has risen to 80.7 years for men, and 84.2 years for women. In the UN World Happiness Report earlier this year, Israel was ranked fifth on the longevity scale, after Japan, Korea, Switzerland, and Italy.
In the same report, Israel came in at 11th place in overall happiness.
In 1948, 43 percent of the population owned their own homes, and just 3% owned a car. Today, 68% of Israelis own their own homes, and 70% own at least one vehicle.
Tourism has also seen 10-fold growth, rising from 33,100 tourists in 1948 to Israel's highest ever figure of 3,863,400 tourists in 2017. Israelis also love to travel out of the country. In 1948, the population made some 30,000 trips abroad. In 2017, they made a staggering 7,597,400 trips overseas.
Today, 44% of Israelis live in the country's 15 largest cities, and Jerusalem is the largest of them all with some 882,000 residents.
By 2048, Israel's population is predicted to reach 15.2 million.