Turning from mourning to celebration
“Thanks to you I understand what I received from our country, but more so, what I need to give back,” Hadar Goldin Z”L
Hadar Goldin was killed on Aug. 1, 2014, during one of Operation Protective Edge’s 72-hour ceasefires. Despite the break in hostilities, Hamas terrorists went ahead and ambushed Hadar and two of his soldiers coming out of an attack tunnel. The three were killed on the spot, and the terrorists escaped with Hadar’s body back into the tunnel.
Hadar’s remains are still held captive by Hamas. The quote at the beginning of this piece was part of a letter he had written to his parents from Poland during a March of the Living journey.
Today, Israel and the Jewish world observes Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s national Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism. Ceremonies nationwide honor the 26,661 servicemen and victims of terror who had fallen since 1860, 97 of them since last Yom Hazikaron.
This past year was yet another year full of disappointment and frustration. Sadly we see our dream for peace, or at least some sort of agreement, draw away and sink in the dusty air of lost hopes.
Hannah Bladon, 21, an exchange student at Hebrew University from London is one of the most recent victims. A Palestinian passenger on the light rail in Jerusalem stabbed her to death on Erev Pesach, the eve of Passover. Another hope—lost.
We have so much in common with our Palestinian neighbors, mostly young men and women, and it fuels our disappointment and frustration. When we communicate, we speak a common language, use the same currency, ride the same public transportation, bear children at the same hospitals, sit side by side at same universities and breathe the same air.
We share a love for the same land but we don’t share the same dream. We aspire to a different future. We teach our children to love the other, to reach out to the other and to find paths to peace. To reconcile, to live as neighbors in peace. To live!
This vicious cycle of hatred, violence and demonization is expanding, reaching new countries. It contaminates peaceful cities, not familiar with this kind of fear. It has entered their homes and conquered their calm routine.
Terror has reached North America and deepened its presence in Europe. It’s cry of hate has replaced the sounds celebration and music at festivals and in clubs with screams of horror, a cry of death.
During our bloody history of wars and terror attacks, we lost some of our best. Innocent citizens, committed soldiers, all victims, each with a name, with unfulfilled dreams, desires and a future that will never be.
They have families. Families that are forced to carry on with their lives accompanied by a dark shadow, an everlasting black cloud that hovers nearby, never leaving. One that constantly reminds them, like a phantom pain of what’s missing. Left behind are parents, siblings, spouses and children reeling in pain, fighting one day at a time to get out of bed, to smile, breath, live. And for many, this is asking the impossible.
At 11 a.m. today the entire state of Israel paused in silence for two minutes, as a siren wailed across the country, like a single cry carried in the wind.
Standing silent for two sacred minutes on a bustling street in downtown Jerusalem on this holy day is a moment I cherish. Today my entire Jewish Israeli being is so complete, so in place, hurting with my brothers and sisters, bending my head in gratitude for those who made the ultimate sacrifices, whispering a prayer for peace.
And then, as the sun sets with our tears and sorrow, the most unreasonable yet powerful transition happens: Israel sheds its grief to put on the joy of Yom Ha’atzmaut, celebrating our 69th year of miraculous independence, strength, and existence.
Together we built a powerful magnificent Jewish state and together, united we stand remembering our heroes, sons and daughters who have died in the long battle of protecting our home. And together we shall raise our eyes with great hopes for our beloved Israel to reach peace, a peace that shall embrace us and the rest of the world with its glory.
These sacred two days are our days, the days we cry and rejoice, but it must be something we do together, united, across the Jewish world. These two days, more than anything, symbolizes our everlasting ties and eternal bond.
“When you’ll die,
something of yours, something of yours in me
will die with you, will die with you.
Because all of us, yes all of us
area all one living human tissue
and if one of us
goes from us
something dies in us –
and something, stays with him” / One Human Tissue, Moti Hamer
עושה שלום במרומיו הוא יעשה שלום עלינו ועל כל ישראל ואמרו אמן
May he who makes peace in high places, make peace for us and for all Israel, and let us say, amen.
Leah Garber, Vice President. Director, JCC Israel Center