Rabbi Hier First Non-Israeli Chosen to Light Torch on Israel's Independence Day

Rabbi Hier First Non-Israeli Chosen to Light Torch on Israel's Independence Day

Simon Wiesenthal Center
"This is not a personal honor, but a recognition of the sacred work of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to defend the Jewish people, honor the principles of human dignity and impart our values to generations to come at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem.
In an historic first, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Simon Wiesenthal Center Founder and Dean (pictured at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem construction site) is being honored as the first non-Israeli citizen chosen to light Israel’s Independence Day ceremonial torch.

The decision was made by Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev, who said that the inclusion of Jews from the diaspora symbolizes the stake that Jewish people all over the world have in the Jewish state.

“I recognize that by lighting this torch I am merely a messenger for previous generations of Jews, my own family included, who sacrificed everything to keep alive the dream that one day their children would return to the Land of Israel and Jerusalem,” said Rabbi Hier.

“This is not a personal honor, but a recognition of the sacred work of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to defend the Jewish people, honor the principles of human dignity and impart our values to generations to come at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem.

“By igniting this flame we are sending a message to the whole world that Jerusalem was, is, and will forever be, the eternal capital of the Jewish people," Hier added.

Some of the other torch lighters include: Six Day War paratrooper and veteran Yaakov (Yaki) Hetz, author Eli Amir, Professor Amnon Shashua, Hadassah Hospital head surgeon Ahmed Eid, Rabbanit Chana Henkin, singer Yehoram Gaon, philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, student Dina Simata, Zichron Menachem founder Miri Ehrental and soccer player Uri Malmilian.

This year’s torch lighting ceremony takes place during the Simon Wiesenthal Center 40th anniversary celebration as it prepares the new Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem, and as world Jewry celebrates the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification.