Israels humble beginnings

Some say Israel's birth was a miracle. Maybe so, but it was a miracle of hundreds of thousands of individuals coming together for a common cause.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of those very human events that led to Israel's creation.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition British-controlled Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.

The U.N. decision was supposed to be the solution to the so-called "Palestine problem." The Arabs rejected the partition plan and fought Israel for decades.

Fifty years later, the final borders of the Jewish state are still up in the air, and the so-called problem has yet to be solved.

But hindsight can't change history, and it's impossible to know what would have been a better solution.

The Jews at the time were obviously willing to risk their lives for a homeland. Among them were several thousand volunteers from overseas.

A good number of those veterans are still alive today. A handful of them live in the Bay Area and are part of a group called American Veterans of Israel.

Over the next six months, we should take advantage of their presence.

Synagogues, culture centers and study groups should send out invitations to those living witnesses to history. We should talk to them, learn from them and appreciate them for their heroic efforts 50 years ago.

At the same time, we should use this occasion to celebrate Israel's existence. Over the next six months, Bay Area Jewish groups are sponsoring numerous events marking the creation of the Jewish state.

Because Israel is so strong now, we tend to take it for granted. But this anniversary should be a reminder to all Jews of the country's humble beginnings and painful birth.