I was born a Sabra four years after Israel claimed its independence. I was raised in and around Tel Aviv and served four years in the Israel Defense Forces, and Israel is a part of my spirit and soul.

Wandering Israel, I see the Tanach (Bible) unfolding in front of my eyes; such a small and fascinating place, historic and beautiful, she occupies a huge place in my heart.

As a teenager, I didn’t think Israel would survive because of our many enemies physically surrounding us and those around the world who threaten our daily existence. While all the world’s empires have risen and fallen, Israel and her people have survived. Her advancements in all arenas — science and medicine, technology, defense, and more — are truly miraculous. Few countries have accomplished in 70 years, much less their first 70, what Israel has; we are unique and unparalleled.

Yossi Ovadia

In her 70th year, let us celebrate that we have a strong, democratic Israel with high morals and ethics. I think about and pray for Israel every day of my life, for its prosperity and peace, as well as for my children and grandchildren living there. As the poem says, “My heart is in the East, and I am in the furthest reaches of the West.”

Israel is only in its infancy among nations, but we are among the most fortunate of hundreds of generations before us to have a state to call ours.

See all the reflections on Israel’s meaning on this special anniversary.