Israel’s 70th anniversary   

on  05/03/2018 
Categories: Education & Excellence
Tags: Masa
President Rivlin inaugurates Masa 70 hike to Jerusalem

​Of all of the events planned to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary, surely one of the most innovative and moving is entitled Masa 70, a Keren Hayesod-supported project that will bring 25,000 participants from the far north of Israel and the far south on a 30-day journey. The various segments of the trip will culminate at Jerusalem’s Western Wall just prior to Independence Day. President Reuven Rivlin accepted an invitation to honor the opening event at Tel Hai, to inaugurate the march and to walk with the first group heading south.
Tel Hai is a place that resonates in Israel’s pre-state history as the site of a decisive battle in 1920 in which eight Jewish pioneers, including their commander, Joseph Trumpeldor, were killed defending it. The centerpiece of the site today is the impressive statue of a roaring lion. Just south of Tel Hai is the city of Kiryat Shmona. Shmona is eight in Hebrew and the city is named after the eight defenders of Tel Hai.
Among those who participated in today’s ceremony was Aya Gabay Belinkov, whose great-aunt Sarah Chizik was one of the eight heroes who gave their lives in the defense of Tel Hai. In the view of many, Tel Hai marked the first major battle in the effort by Jews to secure the Galilee. Aya Gabay Belinkov and the orginizers thanked Keren Hayesod's donors for their support, which made this event possible. "We bless Keren Hayesod for all you do", she added.
A group of marchers is also departing today from Eilat on a northbound route meeting up in a month with those coming from the north. They will converge just outside Jerusalem at the Castel, a decisive battle site in Israel’s War of Independence.

The departure point of the southern route is the former British police station in the center of what is today Eilat. When Israeli forces captured the site in March 1949, they didn’t have a flag to mark Israel’s claim there, but improvised, making one with a piece of white cloth, on which they drew a flag with ink.
The marchers from the north and south will converge at the Castel on April 15, a few days before Independence Day. Their journey will culminate the following day with a celebration at Sultan’s Pool, outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, and with a prayer service for the State of Israel at the Western Wall.
Masa 70 is an initiative of Amichai Shikli, the director of the Tavor pre-army preparatory program, and Eliasaf Peretz. In Peretz’s case, the defense of Israel has come at a heavy price for his family. His brother Eliraz was killed in a clash with terrorists in the Gaza Strip in 2010. Another brother, Uriel, was killed in Lebanon 12 years earlier on a mission to combat Palestinian terrorists.
Keren Hayesod’s support for Masa 70 is part of its ongoing effort to promote Israel’s heritage through the preservation of heritage sites and support for events marking major milestones in Israel’s history.
Photos: Yechiel Riva, for Keren Hayesod-UIA


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