Yesterday I got a taste of the meaning of the transition between Israeli Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron) and Independence Day.
On Yom Hazikaron, we went to the cemetery in Kfar Etzion for the ceremony for fallen soldiers and terror victims. Every year, I wonder: how did this happen? How did our family join the lost list of thousands and thousands of Israel’s bereaved?
But of course I know: My son Koby was murdered by terrorists in 2001 when he went hiking near our home. Terrorists beat him and his friend Yosef Ish Ran to death with stones. The two boys were in eighth grade.
Before the ceremony, we arranged to meet Gidon, a friend of Koby’s, at the grave. Gidon is now a teacher at Ohr Torah Stone, the junior high school that he and Koby attended as boys.
In front of Koby’s grave, Seth and I spoke to Gidon’s seventh grade class about Koby and the messages of his life.
Later at the ceremony we sat with the other bereaved parents and listened to the speeches. There was a poem written by a friend of a fallen solider that said that words are waves. There was poem by Natan Alterman. My husband and son said Kaddish together. A chorus sang about tears.
In the morning I had listened to the radio — interviews with soldiers and families. One commander in the Yom Kippur War talked about losing 44 soldiers in one battle, with over 100 wounded.
He said: “It is the army that protects us. And we still need that protection more than ever.”
As the rabbi spoke in the cemetery, four fighter planes jetted above us and we all looked up. And as I looked at the honor guard, suddenly I had a vision: I couldn’t tell if the soliders were holding clarinets or guns. I didn’t understand what I was seeing.
After last night’s Independence Day Celebrations, with all of the singing and dancing and celebration, I knew. Isaiah’s vision is that one day our swords will be made into ploughshares. But perhaps our dream is even more — that our guns will turn into musical instruments. That with the help of God’s mercy, all of our pain will one day be transformed into song.