Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Yom Ha-zikron and Yom Ha'atzma'ut

Since 5 Iyar comes on Shabbat this year and the Israeli government does not want holiday observances to engender hillul Shabbat (they don't give a damn about Torah, right?), Yom Ha'atzma'ut is celebrated tomorrow. That makes today Yom Ha-zikaron, Israel's Memorial Day. As with Yom Ha-shoah last week, air raid sirens wail and everybody stands still in mourning. Even drivers on the road stop their cars, get out and stand. The whole country is stock still for a minute, except in haredi neighborhoods; what do they care for our national observances? But there is a difference between last week and today. Last week resembled Tisha B'Av - kulo maror. Today is bittersweet - matza and maror mixed and eaten together. We mourn our losses, since to us but not to our enemies every life is a precious gift from God. But at the same time we rejoice in having children (male and female) who are strong, brave and willing to fight. There is a qualitative difference between walking helplessly into a gas chamber and falling in battle - dying on one's feet so that the rest of us won't have to live on our knees. They are the guarantors of "Never Again" and I thank God for the privilege of raising a son who heard the call from across the ocean, went over and served in Zahal during the second intifada, when he could have been enjoying the party scene at college.
Tonight the sirens will wail again, and we will begin to celebrate Yom Ha'atzma'ut. Ma'ariv with the Yom Tov niggun, Hallel at night and again tomorrow morning, the haftara of Od Hayom B'Nov (same as the eighth day of Pesah, which Israelis don't celebrate) in anticipation of the completion of the ge'ula. Don't let anything interfere with the joy of having lived to see the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in Israel. May the process that began 60 years ago reach its glorious conclusion speedily in our time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Stern,

Please email me at

I cannot find your email address on the blog.

Yours truly,
Pamela Sharp

Fri May 30, 12:44:00 AM EDT  

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