“Kol Ode Balevav P’nima…” The words to Israel’s national anthem were sung with a mixture of pride and sadness today, at the conclusion of the funeral for four French Jews, murdered on Friday at a kosher supermarket in Paris.
What other nation, besides Israel, would arrange a state funeral for individuals who were not citizens of the country? Through the government’s assistance, the Kedoshim HY’’D, together with their bereaved relatives, may they live and be well, were escorted to the Holy Land.
Among those in attendance at the funeral were the Prime Minister of Israel and his wife, the President of Israel, Israel’s two Chief Rabbis, the Mayor of Jerusalem, Natan Sharansky, and many Knesset members and dignitaries. The levaya was broadcast on national television, radio and other media outlets.
I sat in my car listening to President Rivlin addressing the crowd of Israelis and French, “Achai (my brothers), we are one nation (Am Echad).” President Rivlin then related to the “Kesher Dam V’Dam”- our blood relationship. He so eloquently stated, “Do not come to Israel because of yeush (despair). Eretz Yisrael hi Eretz Bichira.” (The Land of Israel is a land we choose.)
The Kedoshim were buried on Har Menuchot. Unfortunately, they did not have the opportunity to live their lives in Eretz Yisrael. However, approximately 600,000 French Jews DO have a choice to make. Will they come willingly to our Eretz Bichira or only arrive in cases of yeush?
There are ongoing discussions regarding Israel’s public relations efforts (hasbara). We question ourselves as to whether or not we have done enough to “show” the world how humane we are, even under the most difficult of circumstances, often on a daily basis. We reword our articles, Op-Eds and speeches to ensure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed, so that other cultures will understand our position and why we make the choices we do. Today, at the levaya of four French citizens who died in France but were buried in the holy city of Yerushalayim, we didn’t have to do anything more than BE. To BE an Israeli Jew means that if another Jew is hurting, we are there for our achim (brothers).
When countries are closing their borders to foreigners, Israel publicly states that all Jews, no matter where they reside, are welcome to be part of our country as full-fledged citizens. We practice what we preach, which is an oddity in today’s world. From some of the poorest countries in the world like Ethiopia, or war-torn Ukraine, we battle for each and every Jew who elects to throw his/her destiny with the Jewish people in our homeland. Even before this country’s inception, illegal boats were smuggled in so that Jewish refugees from the death camps of the Shoah could arrive at our shores.
La Marseillaise, France’s national anthem, was not on the minds of those who mourned their family members today. It was a day for recognizing the spirit of Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, albeit in a very solemn manner. As Jews, let us not forget the words of HaTikva and make them a reality for our people ALL over the world.