Jewish communities mark Israel’s milestone anniversary
Gideon Lowenstein is a child of Israel, born and raised in a time of great change.
The 73-year-old Norwich, Conn., resident was born in Israel under British rule. He was 13 when Israel received its independence in May 1948, three years after World War II ended.
By the end of war, more than 6 million Jews had died in the Holocaust and millions more were displaced.
Israel was the perfect answer, said Rabbi Charles Arian, 48, of Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich.
“If there had been an Israel in 1937, there would have been no Holocaust,” Arian said.
Many Holocaust survivors relocated to Israel after the war.
During the next six decades, Israel survived constant threats and wars with its neighboring Arab countries.
Israel reached its 60th anniversary last month and the milestone was marked by Jewish communities around the globe. Ronnie Siegel coordinated Greater Hartford (Conn.) Jewish Federation’s celebration.
“For Jewish people, Israel is the Jewish homeland,” Siegel said.
Like Lowenstein, Siegel, 60, considers himself a child of Israel. He was born in Haifa, Israel, the same year the country declared its independence.
“Despite hostility in the Middle East, it has survived and thrived. So 60 years is quite an accomplishment,” he said.
For Arian, Israel is a place all Jewish people call home, but is also home to other faiths.
“In Israel, there’s a certain uniqueness about living in a place where our ancestors lived thousands of years ago,” said Arian, who lived there for four years during the mid-1980s. “There’s also a certain significance we are all in the family.”
As millions continue to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary, Lowenstein worries about the coming decades. Lowenstein is a veteran of two of Israel’s most famous wars — the Suez Canal War in 1956 and the Six-Day War in 1967.
“I’m still concern about the future of the state of Israel in the midst of so many adversities close and not so close by,” said Lowenstein, who moved to Connecticut in 1973.
A former president of the Eastern Connecticut’s Jewish Federation, Lowenstein is a design professor at the University of Rhode Island.
Despite its constant threats by Hamas and other militants, Israel has shown willingness to reach territorial agreement with its enemies, Lowenstein said.
“Who is right? It’s a difficult situation,” Lowenstein said. “There is no right or wrong. Both sides are right and wrong. It’s only with compromise — emotional, territorial and political compromise — we’ll have a chance to solve it,” he said.
Fran Morales can be reached at email@example.com