This is going to be out of order from my trip because I was so honored to be invited to Yom HaZikaron services at the Jewish Community Center tonight. It was the first time, though it won’t be the last that I’ve observed and been present at the service. Originally Yom HaZikaron was observed on Independence Day, but in 1950 responding to the requests by the families of fallen soldiers the day was moved to the day before Independence Day and so is now observed separately. Yom HaZikaron honors the fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. This day is very solemn. The next day, Independence Day is a time of joy.
At 2000 (8PM) a one minute siren sounds, in Israel people stop what they are doing, including driving or riding on a bus. Tomorrow at 1100 a two minute siren sounds and the same cessation of activity will occur. This was Israel’s 66th observance.
The service started with a short film, on the Peretz family. The Mother talked about having two houses (and how glad I was it was subtitled). One is where she lives, one is in the cemetery. She has lost two sons to war. She talked about the only thing she wants to hear is the word “Mother”. They won’t be returning to her home, they are in their final home. She pointed out they fought for all, that they carried you in those knapsacks. Her answer? It is to live, and she intends to. Israel has lost 23, 169 soldiers from 1948 until the present. That doesn’t count the civilian victims of terrorism.
Early in the service a candle was lit by a friend of mine, Lt.Col. Effie to honor those he had served with in his unit and his country that have fallen in her service. A prayer called the Yizkor was said, it’s a prayer for the fallen casualties of war. This was followed by The El male rachamim. The leader then talked about the poem “The Silver Platter”. It is a VERY moving poem. She also talked about the attacks on the JCC 13th April this year.
There were many beautiful songs throughout the service. This one is “Walk to Caesarea” it was written by Hannah Szenes. Hannah deserves her own post!
Then a beautiful young lady related the story of finding out her invincible brother Gabriel being killed in a terrorist attack. She said he was strong as an angel. When she first heard the news she didn’t believe it. She said when her Mother cried over losing Gabriel, she would make it a point to go over and kiss her.
The next speaker pointed out that after the loss of a family member, life doesn’t continue. It stops and then starts again, but it’s not the same, it’s different.
Another very moving song was “A Million Stars” written by Amit Farkash, in honor of her brother Tom, and Israeli Pilot.
The another poem was about Angels talking about how many things they gave to bless this child.
The guest speaker was Moren Omer, he is in the Armored Corps. He paid honor to one of his soldiers Nir Leibovitz that had lost his life when his tank flipped in August of 2004. In Israel, they train for a year to work with a tank, in America for six years. I know from an interview I did with a Israeli Navigation Unit Commander for a Tank Battalion that the Arabs sometimes train as long as nine whole days. Americans have the luxury to train for six years. They don’t have their neighbors on every side denying their right to exist, and trying to kill them.
The service concluded with a prayer for Israel.
Then a bit of milling and visiting. I was introduced to several very kind people, one of whom had been instrumental during a war because he could tell them everything the enemy was saying. Good man to have on your side, don’t you think?
After that there was a question and answer session with Moren Omer, and yes, I was lucky enough to get to sit in on that as well. He is over here for a year with his family at Ft. Leavenworth. There are also soldiers from other countries over at Ft. Leavenworth and he has become friends with many of them. In fact since he is taking Arabic now, some of them help him with his studies.
The flower at the top? That’s my sticker from tonight. It’s a Helichrysum sanguineum, the Red Everlasting,(blood of the Maccabees). The story is The Macabees are described as a symbol of “fighting without fear – for faith, the right to faith, for the homeland, to live free in the homeland, self-defense, to stand in battle and in the end, victory. And their blood, let’s say it in all simplicity and confidence, flows in our veins. We are exactly like them. If a drop of our blood falls on the soil of our homeland, a flower will grow… small and red – dam hamakabim (Helichrysum sanguineum). Only in this land, the homeland, does this flower grow amongst the other flowers … dam hamakabim”.~~Itzhak Sadeh
May G_d bless and protect Israel!