This evening marks Yom Haatzmaut--Israel Independence Day. On this day we celebrate 61 years of an independent Jewish nation in the land of Israel. In the above pictured hall David ben Gurion declared on the 5th of Iyyar 5708, "This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent state may not be revoked. It is, moreover, the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, like all other nations, in its own sovereign state.... Our call goes out to the Jewish people all over the world to rally to our side in the task of immigration and development and to stand by us in the great struggle for the fulfillment of the dream of generations--the redemption of Israel." To read the full text of the Proclamation of the State of Israel click here. To listen to its concluding words in Ben Gurion's own voice, and my favorite part, the thunderous applause, click here. The applause of course captures my mood and should most reflect your feelings. Despite the fact that Israel still faces many enemies who refuse to even affirm its existence, despite the fact that the United Nations which helped to give birth to this nation has become instead more a forum for antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment, the Jewish state continues to thrive. There people celebrate life. There people celebrate Jewish life. For thousands of years Jews only dreamed of a state in the land of Israel. Let us never take Israel for granted. Israel deserves our thanks and our applause. Take a moment to relish the fact that our generation of Jews is living the dream. "When the Lord restores the fortunes of Zion/we shall be like dreamers/our mouths shall be filled with laughter,/our tongues, with songs of joy." (Psalm 126) Amen! Applause!