November 29, 2022

3 Minutes That Changed 2,000 Years of Jewish History

Robert Lichtman Chief Jewish Learning Officer
75 years ago today, the UN General Assembly approved the “Partition Plan” supporting the establishment of a Jewish state and an Arab state in what was until then British Mandate Palestine.  “29 November” is a significant date in Zionist history and many cities in Israel commemorated the event with street-naming such as you see here.

1947 would be the first time in 2,000 years that the nations of the world recognized Jewish sovereignty in Israel, and also the first of several occasions when Arab or Palestinian leadership rejected a compromise to share the sacred land between two peoples. Violent Arab rejection of this plan led to the War of Independence in 1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel.

The notion of Jewish sovereignty in Israel did not begin on November 29, 1947, or even with Theodor Herzl 50 years before. This historic UN vote took place on Saturday/Shabbat. Jews all over the world read the Torah portion of Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4 – 36:43)that morning. It is in this parasha that God promises Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes that would later become the nation of Israel, that “the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac – I will give it to you and your children.”
It is also in this parasha that Jacob wrestles throughout the night with the angelic spirit of his brother, Esav (according to one midrash). At the end of that long night of struggle, Jacob is permanently wounded, but proudly stands his ground. At the culmination of this battle Jacob is adorned with the name, Israel. The first act of our newly renamed ancestor, Israel, is to provide bountiful gifts to his brother – his lifelong adversary – to embrace, to be kissed, and for both of them to call a peaceful end to their conflict.
Here’s a wonderful short film about this historic vote and the background leading up to it. 
Note that the Jewish Agency that is referenced several times here is the same Jewish Agency that our UJA Campaign supports in its continuing non-governmental role, rescuing Jews around the world and resettling them in the State of Israel.
Wishing you a Happy 29 B’November.