Pres. Obama on Israeli Independence Day and Jewish History Month


— President Barack Obama

Yom Ha’atzmaut

Sixty-three years ago, when Israel declared its independence, the dream of a state for the Jewish people in their historic homeland was finally realized.  On that same day, the United States became the first country in the world to recognize the State of Israel.  As Israelis celebrate their hard-won independence, it gives me great pleasure to extend the best wishes of the American people to the people of Israel and to honor their remarkable achievements over the past six decades.  Our two nations share a unique and unbreakable bond of friendship that is anchored in common interests and shared values, and the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.  I have every confidence that the strong relationship between our countries will grow deeper with each passing year.

This is a period of profound change in the Middle East and North Africa, as people across the region  courageously pursue the path of dignity and self-governance.  Just as I know that Israel will always be one of our closest allies, I believe that the region can be more peaceful and prosperous when its people are able to fulfill their legitimate aspirations.   We will continue our efforts with Israel and others in the region to achieve a comprehensive peace, including a two-state solution, and to working together toward a future of peace, security and dignity for the people of Israel and all the people of the region.  

I offer my best wishes to President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the people of Israel as they celebrate their 63rd Independence Day.

Information about the Second Annual White House Jewish American Heritage Month Reception follows the jump.
Reception at the White House

On Tuesday, May 17, President Barack Obama will host a White House reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.

The reception will highlight and celebrate the history and unique identity of Jewish Americans and their profound and ennobling contributions to the American story. Invitees include grassroots Jewish community leaders from across the country, rabbis, Members of Congress, and a broad range of leaders engaged in business, the arts, education, and public and community service.

Since taking office, President Obama has continued the tradition started under the previous Administration of proclaiming May Jewish American Heritage Month. Last year, the President and First Lady hosted the first ever White House reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.

In this year’s proclamation, President Obama said, “Seeking a brighter future, a small band of Jewish refugees came to this land more than three centuries ago, to a place called New Amsterdam…From those first days in New Amsterdam, Jewish Americans have dedicated their innovation, creativity, and hearts to the greater good, contributing scientific accomplishments, pioneering works of literature and musical genius, and performing distinguished service in our Nation’s military.”

Official Proclamation

Since before our Nation’s founding, America’s shores have been a safe harbor for people seeking shelter, hope, and new lives free from persecution. Here, people of all faiths have broken bread, come together, and built a better future for their families. The Jewish story is intertwined with the American story — one of overcoming great hardship, and one of commitment
to building a more just world. This month, we embrace and celebrate the vast contributions Jewish Americans have made to our country.

Seeking a brighter future, a small band of Jewish refugees came to this land more than three centuries ago, to a place called New Amsterdam. Hundreds of years later, as Holocaust
survivors and families caught behind the Iron Curtain made their way to America, their perseverance in the face of unimaginable tragedy inspired the world and proved that the Jewish people will not be defeated. Many endured bigotry even here, reminding us that we must continue to fight prejudice and violence at home and around the globe. In this spirit, President Truman recognized the small, fledgling nation of Israel within minutes of its creation. To this day, we continue to foster an unbreakable partnership with Israel, and we remain committed to pursuing peace in the region and ensuring Israel’s security.

From those first days in New Amsterdam, Jewish Americans have dedicated their innovation, creativity, and hearts to the greater good — contributing scientific accomplishments, pioneering works of literature and musical genius, and performing distinguished service in our Nation’s military. Jewish Americans have defended our country since the days of the American Revolution as devoted service members and chaplains, and they continue to serve with distinction in our Armed Forces.

Nearly 70 years ago, during World War II, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester suffered an explosion at sea while carrying almost a thousand soldiers and civilian workers. On board were four Army chaplains — two Protestant, one Catholic, and one Jewish. While the ship sank, the four chaplains gave their own life jackets to four men without any, calmed the wounded, and preached strength to the survivors, linking arms and praying together as the ship submerged. In a time of great need, these chaplains showed that their shared commitment to the lives of others was stronger than any division of faith or background.

This same spirit is found in the countless Jewish Americans who, through their every day actions, work to provide a better life for future generations by joining hands with all who seek equality and progress. This month, we remember that the history and unique identity of Jewish Americans is part of the grand narrative of our country, forged in the friendships and shared wisdom between people of different faiths.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2011 as Jewish American Heritage Month I call upon all Americans to visit www.JewishHeritageMonth.gov to learn more about the heritage and contributions of Jewish Americans and to observe this month with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

Olim’s new Israeli babies celebrate first Yom Haatzmaut in Israel


— by Renana Levine

Nefesh B’Nefesh held a unique Yom Haatzmaut party in Jerusalem in honor of the 250 new Israeli babies born this past year to NBN Olim, who will be celebrating their first Yom Haatzmaut.
Since its founding in 2002, over 2,100 ‘sabra’ babies have been born to the 27,000+ North American and British Olim that Nefesh B’Nefesh has assisted with their Aliyah, together with the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
“There is no greater satisfaction than to see Israeli babies born to Olim who we helped make Aliyah,” said Erez Halfon, Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “This year Nefesh B’Nefesh expects to bring over 4,800 Olim from North America, Canada and the UK and we look forward to celebrating Yom Haatzmaut next year with even more new ‘sabra’ babies.”

Four and a half month old Nitzan Skversky, son of Tamara and Aron who made Aliyah from the USA a few years ago, participated in the unique celebration. “Celebrating our first Yom Haatzmaut with our own truly Israeli baby is the realization of a dream for us,” said the excited mother. “This is our humble present to the State of Israel for its 63rd Birthday.”

Photos: Sasson Tiram