OU Encourages Synagogues Across the Country to Celebrate Israel’s 60th Anniversary

25 Jan 2008


In honor of Israel’s upcoming sixtieth anniversary, May 8, corresponding to 3 Iyar, the Orthodox Union’s Pepa and Rabbi Joseph Karasick Department of Synagogue Services is planning a variety of celebratory programming to mark this important milestone in Israel’s history. “The OU is proud to be a primary force leading the celebration of Israel’s sixtieth anniversary,” declared Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, OU Executive Vice President.

The OU has already announced that its Biennial National Convention, which was originally scheduled at Thanksgiving in New York, has been moved to Jerusalem as part of the celebration and to show support for Jerusalem and its people.

As a key part of the initiative, the Department of Synagogue Services is making available 60 Days for 60 Years: Israel, A Commemoration and Celebration, a book which contains sixty essays written by eminent rabbis and historical experts. They include Rabbi Weinreb; Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks; former Israel Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau; Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski and Natan Sharansky among others.

A preview edition, which has been sent to OU synagogues, features essays by the Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin; Chief Rabbi Sacks; Co-founder and Dean of the Darche Noam Institutions, Rabbi Shaya Karlinksy; and, Esther Wachsman, mother of murdered IDF soldier, Nachshon Wachsman. The shuls also received an informational CD with remarks by Chief Rabbi Sacks to provide insight into the project.

The book is available to synagogues at a specialty discounted price of $6 per copy, including shipping. Proceeds will go towards funding projects associated with the physical and spiritual needs of Israel’s soldiers.

If one essay is read each day starting March 9, the culmination will occur sixty days later, on Yom Ha’atzmaut. Each essay will be read in memory of fallen Israeli soldiers.

According to Rabbi Weinreb, the book “will enhance the meaning of how our communities celebrate Israel’s sixtieth anniversary. We are pleased to make it available.”

Other initiatives include:

• National “Israel @ 60” Yom Ha’atzmaut Shabbat, which falls on May 9-10, 5 Iyar (Parshat Emor), “is the prime opportunity to unite the OU community in celebration and appreciation of Israel,” declared Rabbi Bini Maryles, Director of Synagogue Services. According to Rabbi Maryles, the OU will provide a variety of suggestions for this Shabbat: a proposed schedule; a beautifully designed poster with the prayer for the welfare of Israel; an educational and interactive youth program with Israel-related games; educational materials on Israel’s sanctity; shiur suggestions; and a model sermon.

• Emergency Field Beit Knesset Kit is a key project of the IDF rabbinate, designed for army units, to satisfy a need which became clear during the Second Lebanon War. The kit contains everything necessary for a mobile shul with the exception of a Sefer Torah, such as a pocket size Torah library, siddurim, chumashim, talitot, tefillin, kippot, Shabbat candles, a Kiddush and Havdalah set, Shofar, Chanukah menorah, and even 100 meters of string for an eruv. Synagogues are encouraged to donate one or more kits at $1,800 per unit.

• OU Biennial National Convention will take place Sunday, November 23 to Sunday, November 30 as the climactic event of a year-long period of OU activities.

• Shul Missions, following in the footsteps of the OU’s successful Israel missions, are a unique opportunity for synagogues to send their membership to Israel with OU planning assistance. For more information contact Allyson Gur-Aryeh at allysong@ou.org or 212-613-8124.

• Take Five for Torah, OU Radio’s daily five minute message, will be devoted to Israel in the period leading up to Yom Ha’atzmaut. American and Israeli rabbis interested in recording these messages should contact Josh Vogel at vogelj@ou.org or 212-613-8225.

• Seymour J. Abrams OU Jerusalem World Center will play a major role in the “Israel @ 60” campaign.

• NCSY Israel edition bencher is being published for synagogues to use at the National “Israel @ 60” Yom Ha’atzmaut Shabbat.

For more information contact Laya Pelzner, Israel at 60 Project Coordinator, at 212-613-8165 or synagogue@ou.org.