Every year on this day of Yom Hazikaron I always regret not going to the Israeli army. I feel like I missed out on something so integral to the Israeli spirit within me. My dad was in the IDF and I hope that one day, when I make aliyah, my children will serve their country as well. But whenever I say that to people, they look at me like I’m crazy. “You’re not scared of losing your children? Why would you even want to live in such violence?”

Well, I don’t want to. But I have to.

Every day I watch as people are stabbed, killed, or murdered in cold blood and instead of feeling safe that I live in a cushy Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, I feel bad that I’m not in danger as well. It does sound crazy but I can’t be alone. I believe in our right to the land and I believe in the absolute need for a Jewish homeland so as a believer I feel it’s hypocritical of me to still be living in a “safe” zone.

How can I watch as young soldiers go straight to the army after high school while I got to go straight to college? How can I watch as soldiers leave their families, their wives and their children to go fight for our country while I get to stay home with my husband? How can I watch a new generation develop post traumatic stress disorder while my future children live relatively painless lives?

I can’t.

As much as living in violence and terror scares me, I’m so attracted to the togetherness of the people of Israel. Living in America is great but when we celebrate Memorial Day, there is not even a slight comparison to Yom Hazikaron. Here, we use it as a day off from work but in Israel every citizen serves in the IDF, every person either knows a family member or has a friend that has been hurt or even killed and everyone grieves the lives lost and prays for peace. Everyone has been impacted.

Yom Hazikaron is not just about memorializing though. It’s also about thanking the soldiers for their service, for protecting our families from terror and for risking their own lives to save ours. It’s also about acknowledging that maybe lives had to be lost in order for us to continue to have a land – maybe without them we would have lost wars, returned land, been exiled yet again etc. It’s also about understanding that if you believe in the ideology behind the creation of Israel and insist upon its existence, you must be a part of it – you cannot sit idly by.

To our fallen brothers and sisters,
Though we may be across the world, we know you. We know your stories, what you look like, what you stood for… we’ve followed every one of your deaths, mourned with your families, and prayed for each one of you. Although you are gone from this world, you will not be forgotten. Your memories live through each of us.
Thank you, from all of us.

May the 23,447 people who gave up their lives because of their belief in our homeland be blessed.