[by Phyllis Shaikun]
On Tuesday, January 24, Haim Aronovitz, educational coordinator/director of Israeli Seminars for the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, provided a thought-provoking, interactive, Melton-style study session at the Jewish Community Center. He discussed the Megillat Ha’Atzmaut, the Proclamation of the State of Israel, which was signed on Friday, May 14, 1948. Little known facts about that monumental event became the focal point for a session that proved to be rewarding and enlightening.
Aronovitz explained that Israel’s statehood was signed into being in a room that had been cleared in a Tel Aviv art gallery for the occasion. He pointed out that the founders had examined the U.S. Declaration of Independence to help create their own narrative for statehood that is still in use today. The name “Israel,” he notes, “was not shared prior to the signing, nor was information about how the country would be governed. All was kept secret.”
The government announcement was made on the 14th, although the British were still in control of Palestine for one more day, because the 15th was Shabbat. Aronovitz says, “To hear David ben Gurion, a Diaspora Jew from Poland, read the proclamation in Hebrew, was almost jarring to the ears of those living in the area.” Ben Gurion understood that the people knew what they might want in the state, but he believed he knew what they needed.
In typical Melton fashion, Aronovitz asked the crowd that filled the Patio Gallery their opinions about how the world viewed this new state. A lively discussion ensued. Aronovitz reported that the United States offered just de facto support for Israel since our government did not believe an independent Israeli state could be viable in a place where only one-third of the area was inhabited by Jews.
Of course Israel went on to write its own success story and Aronovitz says the inhabitants remain true to the positions outlined when statehood was first declared. Although the danger for Jews in Israel remains real, great sacrifices have been made in order to secure a much wanted Jewish homeland. In May 1949, Israel was admitted into the United Nations as its 59th member and war broke out that night in Tel Aviv.
Louisville’s Melton Adult Mini-School offers people the chance to learn more about Judaism and Israel in an adult setting. No prior knowledge is required for participation. For more information about the Melton program and all it has to offer, contact Matt Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-2707.