Temple Sinai President Richard Evans
Dear Temple Sinai Family,
Shana Tovah. I wish a happy and healthy 5778 to all of you. With the High Holy Days now past, we begin our Temple year in earnest. As you now know, this year we will be celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Temple Sinai and the State of Israel.
While Israel is turning 70 this year, November 2 also marks the 100th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. We would be remiss if we didn’t take pause and commemorate this historical milestone. The Balfour Declaration is generally acknowledged as the first stepping stone toward the creation of the State of Israel.
The Balfour Declaration was a British government public statement made during World War I, to announce their support for the establishment of a "national home" for the Jewish people in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. The declaration was contained in a letter dated November 2, 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The text of the declaration was published on November 9, 1917.
Amazingly, the actual letter is less than three paragraphs. It is truly astounding that such a short, terse letter could have has the influence that it did. I have included the text below.
November 2, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet
His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
The influence of the Balfour Declaration on the course of post-war events was immediate: According to the “mandate” system created by the Versailles Treaty of 1919, Britain was entrusted with the temporary administration of Palestine, with the understanding that it would work on behalf of both its Jewish and Arab inhabitants. Many Arabs, in Palestine and elsewhere, were angered by their failure to receive the nationhood and self-government they had been led to expect in return for their participation in the war against Turkey. In the years after the war, the Jewish population in Palestine increased dramatically, along with the instances of Jewish-Arab violence. The area’s instability led Britain to delay making a decision on Palestine’s future. In the aftermath of World War II and the terrors of the Holocaust, however, growing international support for Zionism led to the official declaration in 1948 of the State of Israel.