A Look Back at Israel's Miraculous Rebirth
JERUSALEM, Israel -- As Israelis celebrate their 67th national birthday, the picnics and parties often pale in comparison to the miracle that led to their independence.
That started at a place now called Independence Hall in the heart of Tel Aviv.
It was just before the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, and just hours before the British Mandate over Palestine was due to expire, when the soon to be prime minister of the new Jewish state, David Ben Gurion, made the dramatic declaration.
"We, members of the People's Council, representatives of the Jewish Community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist Movement, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British Mandate over Eretz-Israel and, by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel," Ben Gurion announced.
For the first time in nearly 2,000 years, the Jewish people had a nation and a home.
"This is where Israel was born," said Isaac Dror, training manager of Independence Hall museum. "When people come here they are astonished to see this place. Most of the people that visit here, their first reaction is, 'This is it? That's all you have here?'"
Ben Gurion and his team looked for an inconspicuous place to declare statehood. At the time, Independence Hall, one of the first buildings in Tel Aviv, was an art gallery.
During a 1978 renovation, the decision was made to take the building back to its original look at the time of the declaration.
"Traveling in Israel will teach you that God has a tendency to perform his best miracles in the most humble places. This place is one of those places," Dror told CBN News about Independence Hall.
According to Dror, the establishment of Israel shook the world and as it became a haven for Jewish people.
"How many people prayed for it every day, when the Jews said next year in Jerusalem and next year in Jerusalem? That's what they meant." he said.
When Israel declared its independence, dancing filled the streets but the celebration was short lived. The very next day, armies of five Arab nations invaded the newborn state.
"When it comes to the story of the War of Independence, we don't have many answers there - It's very hard for us to explain," he said. "Call it a miracle, call it whatever you like, but we are here."
About 130,000 people visit this tiny hall each year to hear about the miracle of Israel, including tourists like this group from Massachusetts.
"It's the beginning of the Jewish state -- a feeling hard to describe -- a satisfaction, a spiritual uplifting," said Mitch Jacobson.
Lynn Duncan was crying. "I didn't expect it to be so moving. My whole life Israel has always been here. So I think in some ways I took it for granted, and now I felt like I was here that day."
"After 2,000 years of wandering and persecution for Jews to have their own state, it really has to be a miracle," Edward Guralnick told CBN News.
In a park across the street from Independence Hall is a monument with a scripture from Jeremiah 31: "Again I will build you and you shall be rebuilt oh virgin of Israel."
Surrounded by skyscrapers and a new generation visiting the hall, it's testament to God's faithfulness to his promise to build and rebuild the Jewish state and its people.