Monday, May 09, 2011

Yom Hazikaron - The Living Bones

What's the price of freedom?

Today is Yom Hazikaron, the day Israel mourns the soldiers who have fallen defending this small country from its genocidal foes.It's a day of utmost seriousness there, and one that always comes the day before Yom Ha'atzmaot, the celebration of Israel's miraculous rebirth as a nation.The commemoration of Yom Hazikaron the day before Israel's Independence day is no accident.

As with most Jewish observances, this holiday starts at sundown. Sirens wail, and Israelis no matter where they are or what they're doing stand at attention. Even cars on the busy roads pull over as the drivers leave their vehicles to stand for a minute and remember the sacrifice of Israel's fallen heroes....22,867 fallen soldiers and 2,443 victims of Arab terrorist attacks, a terrible price for such a small country.

Because Israel is such a small country where most people serve in the military, the Tzahal is literally a people's army, and it has love and respect from the people it defends as in few other nations. On Yom Hazikaron it's not only the family that mourns the fallen soldier. It's his comrades.

Often, these are people who have grown up together in the same neighborhood, join up together, serve in the same unit and then continue to serve together yearly in reserve duty.They become an extended family, and it is their day to mourn and remember as well. All over Israel, people visit the graves of their loved one and lay flowers, and a red daisy called Blood of the Maccabees is worn in lapels and on hats.

This year,the sirens wailed at exactly 8PM Israeli time, and as always, people stopped whatever they were doing to stand and honor Israel's dead.

Last night There was a 40 minute ceremony at the Kotel,the Western Wall. Immediately after the wail of the sirens, President Shimon Peres, accompanied by a widow of one of Israel’s fallen, lit the memorial candle.

After the President made a brief speech, the chief rabbi of the IDF, Rafi Peretz and the rabbi of the Kotel, Shmuele Rabinovitz, each read a short prayer. A father who had lost a son to war recited the Kaddish, the Mourner's Prayer and an army cantor chanted the traditional prayer for the dead, K’el Maleh Rachamim.

Today, the traditional State ceremony was held as always, on Mount Herzl. Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke movingly, but for me the remarks that resonated were those by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, at a Yom Hazikaron memorial at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem:

"As we stand at this hour before the plots of our heroes, we say that this city will find its protectors."

"Those who fought for it back then, when it was besieged by foreigners, will not stand by this time either. We will not sit on our hands while others raise a hand against the city that has finally come together."

"We have not come here to live at the mercy of foreigners and their decrees. We were born for freedom and for the freedom of Israel have we fought, and this ancient mountain will once again be a symbol of life, construction, and renewal. This is the will of the children."

As sad as this day is, there is something else that needs to be mentioned.

The last time genocide was visited on the Jewish people,there was no IDF,no army to defend them and there was no home or refuge for them.

The world turned its back on the Jews, with some honorable and heroic exceptions. They stood by and watched it happen.

In 63 years, although the price has been agonizingly heavy, the Jews have made Ezekiel's prophecy come true..the remnants of the Jewish people came home from fire and slaughter and G-d's question to Ezekiel 'Can these bones live?' has an answer in the miracle that is Israel.

Yes, the Jews are home, and they will continue to pay the price for the very reason Reuven Rivlin mentioned. They understand only too well what living at the mercy of foreigners and their decrees means. They understand the price of freedom.Their roots in the Land of Israel go deep, back through the centuries and they will not be uprooted as easily as some people might imagine.

As the flame of the memorial candles of Yom Hazikaron die down, they give way to the bright sunshine of the dawn of Yom Ha'atzmaot, the festival of Israel's freedom.The Jews are home, in their own free country, and with G-d's help, they mean to keep it.


please helps me write more gooder!

No comments: