This afternoon, I saw the most magnificent stars in the sky. You might ask, how could we see stars in the afternoon? Doesn’t nightfall bring out the stars? Ordinarily, you would be right. But the stars we saw were not ordinary at all. They were extraordinary!

Our Temple Emanu-El returners trip  (2.0) to Israel was fortunate to gain entrance this afternoon to graduation ceremonies for the Israeli Air Force pilots. 33 young men and one young woman earned their wings to fly and protect our shared homeland. At the end of the ceremony, loaded with pageantry and dignitaries, an impressive airshow took place showcasing the oldest and newest planes of Israel and their capabilities. Sitting in the outdoor amphitheater, looking skyward we saw aircraft of all shapes and sizes; some refueling in mid-air and others doing amazing acrobatic feats. Each plane had on the underside of the wing, the Star of David, the symbol of Israel. That star was one of the most magnificent I have ever seen.

In what is tantamount to a blink of an eye in Jewish history, 66 years, the Jewish people have its own state. We boast not only a sovereign military power within that state, but one that is of the most elite in the world. Less than two generations ago much of the Jewish people of Eastern Europe were herded to their death. Sadly, no country came to our rescue. Today, that could never happen again.

Rest assured, I am not cut of the cloth that rings the “holocaust reference” bell regularly. Yet, when I see those stars in the sky I understand too well their pivotal role in the latest war, Protective Edge along with countless other operations since our independence.

These are the stars that shined in the night of the Sudan sky when rescuing thousands of Ethiopian Jews and repatriating them home to Israel. Which other country has picked up black people from Africa and moved them to freedom? Only Israel. All of the other countries in history moved Africans from freedom to slavery!

These stars twinkled in the Ugandan sky at night when it rescued the hostages in Entebbe during a surprise attack. These stars still burn brightly each day and night helping refugees from Syrian oppression and bringing aid in the wake of natural disasters across the globe.

These stars created a secretive formation of a passenger jet in the early 80s. They then stealthily flew to Iraq, to destroy the nuclear reactor in Osirik.

The psalmist speaks of a time when we lift our head and seek direction, (Psalm 121). The psalmist knew that our reflex when thinking of tomorrow and defining aspirations is to look upward. When we do, know that the men and women of the Israel Air Force  – the stars in the sky – are brilliant and give us light towards our path of peace and a better tomorrow.