April 6, 2012 / Nissan 5722
Shalom and warm greetings,
It's no coincidence that the first time the "Nation of Israel" is mentioned in our ancient texts, it is in the context of our Exodus from Egypt. It is a unique and special facet of our national history, that we received our national identity and our freedom at the same time. Today, when the entire global Jewish family is remembering the Exodus, the Jewish Agency family is celebrating it not only as a commemoration of past events, but as a current, continuing reality: We are in the process of completing the historic Aliyah of the Jews of Ethiopia. We are determined that each of them, each and every Jew, will return to the Land of Israel.
Along with the Jews of Ethiopia are the thousands of olim who immigrated in the past year to the State of Israel from 25 different countries, who are now experiencing as a practical reality the simultaneous acceptance of cultural identity and of freedom.
In many countries, especially in our area of the world, nationalism and forced religiosity are valued above freedom, and lead to a state of oppression and dictatorship. In other countries where freedom is valued above all else, there is a tendency to attempt to erase religion or cultural identity, which are seen as essentially contradictory to universal values. We have seen in the last few years that without the anchor of spiritual and cultural identity, these latter societies often lack the strength to defend against the enemies of freedom, both internal and external.
I have always believed, and I still believe, that only a combination of freedom and cultural identity can ensure the survival of both. Only a strong cultural bond gives us the strength to fight not only for our own freedom, but also for the freedom of others, and to work toward the repair of the entire world. In this spirit, The Jewish Agency will continue our efforts to strengthen Jewish identity, connection to Israel, and an emphasis on Aliyah among Jews around the world, and we will continue to fight for our right to national freedom in a Jewish, democratic state.
I wish you all – the Jewish Agency family and the entire world Jewish family-- a happy Holiday of Freedom.