Israel marks its 70th birthday on Yom HaAtzmaut, which falls on April 18 and 19, then can celebrate again on May 14, the anniversary on the secular calendar of David Ben-Gurion’s announcement of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Part of the story of the modern state’s first 70 years is its ever-strengthening connection to Atlanta and the Southeast. So the AJT asked Jews and non-Jews, young and old, Atlanta residents and some who made aliyah, a question that is both simple and complex: “What does Israel mean to you?”

We sought a range of views with one limitation: Everyone had to love Israel. This is, after all, a celebration.

We could have filled this section with thoughtful responses from Atlanta’s pulpit rabbis, but as much as we value and usually welcome their opinions, we decided to seek the views of more laymen and skipped active congregational rabbis with the exception of Mendy Gurary, whose Chabad center targets his fellow Israelis.

We’ve included the dean of Atlanta rabbis, Alvin Sugarman, and asked for responses from Atlanta rabbis who made aliyah. Not everyone had the time to respond at this busy time of year.

Here are 60 answers from 63 people (including three couples). Click on the name to read the response.