Remembrance Day in Israel

We are about to start Remembrance Day in Israel, Yom HaZikaron. It is a solemn day. Almost every Israeli has lost family members and friends in the many wars and terrorist attacks this country has experienced. Some 23,000 Israeli soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice for the Jewish Homeland. Some, 3,000, have been killed in terrorist attacks as well. Sadly, so many Palestinians have also lost their lives. I mourn for all of them.

Tonight the country will stand at attention at 8 pm as the sirens bring their shrill reminder. All Jews will stop what they are doing, as will I. Tonight there will be no celebrations, restaurant dinners, or home delivery. Tonight the country will bleed and cry, parents for their children, children for their parents, brothers and sisters for their siblings, friends for their friends.

As many of you know, Israel is in turmoil. The country is divided, or should I say, has been divided. Parents of dead soldiers are asking, “Did my child die in vain.” Usually, governmental ministers go to the cemeteries where families join in grieving to comfort them. However, this year, the families have asked them not to come. Not only to avoid politicizing this occasion but because many members of the Netanyahu government did not serve but sat the wars out studying the Torah. I hope they respect their wishes. They deserve this respect.

I hope their children have not died in vain and that this great country created out of nothing that has inspired the world will remain vibrant and free. I am not sure.

For my American friends, this is not Memorial Day. It is not time to go shopping. Few Americans know those that served and gave their lives. It was not always that way. The World Wars, Korean War, and Vietnam War were wars fought by conscripts like Israel, but now the USA has a volunteer army. Most Americans do not know anyone serving, let alone losing their lives defending their country. It is now a small group that carry the burden of defending the United States. They too deserve our gratitude.

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