UJIA held its annual Yom Ha’atzmaut Business Breakfast this week, adapting a fixture in the Jewish business community’s calendar to the realities of lockdown. Hundreds tuned into the virtual event on Zoom and Facebook live on Wednesday morning to hear a keynote presentation from Duke University professor of psychology and behavioural economics, author and Wall Street Journal columnist, Dan Ariely.


Ariely, previously recognised by Bloomberg as one of its Top 50 Most Influential thinkers, spoke about his work helping people find motivation and make better decisions. Humanity, he said, had “taken every part of our fragile body and invented technology to help us deal with that. We need the same things for our mind.” He ended his address with the optimistic message that “unlike any other Yom Ha’atzmaut our fragility but also our dependency on each other is much clearer, and I hope that this will be an important step in coming together in better ways for all of us.”


Israel’s Ambassador Mark Regev also addressed the online audience, thanking them for their support for UJIA. “You are making a real difference in the lives of so many people in Israel, helping to narrow gaps, helping everyone in Israel be part of Israel’s success story,” he said. “Even today, as the entire planet faces the challenges of Covid-19, it is quite possible that Israel, that has been on the cutting edge of so much scientific development, will be a part of the solution”, he added.


The event closed with a rendition of Hatikvah produced by UJIA and the Israeli Embassy.

The video of the Hatikvah rendition can be seen below:


Online rendition of Hatikvah specially produced by UJIA and the Israeli Embassy


Money raised will support children in the Carmiel Children’s Village in the north of Israel. Although UJIA has restricted its fundraising efforts in recent weeks so as not to divert the community’s attention from the JLC’s communal fundraising initiatives, it felt that Yom Ha’atzmaut was an appropriate time to highlight the needs of vulnerable Israeli children facing new challenges under Coronavirus lockdown.

The Yom Ha’atzamaut event reflects the steps UJIA is taking to adapt its Israel engagement programming to the constraints of the pandemic. The organisation has launched an online ulpan for children of school age to learn Hebrew and partnered with  PJ Library this month to send Israel related books to over 7800 children in the UK, each containing Israel themed activities for children to do during lockdown.


UJIA Chairman Louise Jacobs commented:


“We’re so pleased UJIA was able to provide a platform this week for British Jews to celebrate Israel and commemorate those who have given their lives for it. Being connected to Israel is vital for us as a community and UJIA will continue to explore ways to stay engaged with Israel despite the current constraints.”