A View From Israel

Eternal Grief and Abundant Joy: A Country’s Delicate Balance

As happens every year, writing about Israel’s national holidays—Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day—is difficult for me.

My emotions intensify and swell—my great love and pride I have for my home alongside the grief for the toll it takes to call it home.

I am overjoyed and incredibly appreciative of all the wonders, achievements, and beauty that bless this country and people, and yet, I’m overwhelmed with sadness, sorrow, and pain at the price we continue to pay, the never-ending fee required, still, even after 74 glorious years of existence.

Yom HaZikaron, Israel Remembrance Day, is a national day of mourning, present in every possible dimension of Israel’s public sphere. The atmosphere is one of grief, private and personal, as well as public, in the form of official memorial ceremonies in cemeteries, schools, and workplaces across the country. The day-long remembrance in all realms of the country is intensified by the two sirens that pierce the air and shake the heart, the first in the evening of Yom HaZikaron, the second at mid-day.

As an Israeli, the sense of collective mourning shared pain, and gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price so we can live is the most powerful emotion I experience during the entire year.

Israeli singer and songwriter Moti Hammer wrote in “Human Tapestry”:

“When I will die, something from me
Will die within you.

When you will die, something from you within me
Will die along with you

Because all of us, yes, all of us
All of us are just a living human tissue
And if one of us,
Fades away
Something from us dies along
And something else stays within him

If we only knew, how to calm
The hatred, if only we knew how

If we only knew how to silence our rage
To say we are sorry, though we already got offended
If we only knew how to begin fresh from the start”

Every year I hope the previous year’s last victim will forever seal the list of bereavement, but every year brings disappointment and new tears to blend with the old ones.

On Friday night, 23-year-old Vyacheslav Golev was killed by a vicious terrorist from a nearby Palestinian village at the check point near the entrance to the city of Ariel. The city and its large university, which welcomes Jewish and Arab students as one, was Vyacheslav’s second home during the years he studied there and from which he graduated recently.

Just

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