Yom Hazikaron by far the hardest day on the Israeli calendar. It is a day filled with pain, remembrance and tears. It is the day when I could be very easily made to feel like an outsider. As an olah chadasha and as one who has (thank God) never lost someone in a war or terrorist attack, I could feel like a complete bystander. I watch mothers cry over the graves of their sons. I watch fathers and brothers try to remain stoic, eventually breaking down. I watch children mourn their lost parents, parents mourn their lost children. I watch. I feel. I cry. But I do not know. I don’t know the loss, the pain, the heartbreak, and the utter sense of longing for just 5 more minutes to tell him you love him.

But instead of feeling like a stranger, Yom Hazikaron is the day when I feel the most connected to the people of Israel. I join thousands of fellow Israeli’s to hear the stories of those who fell in defense of this great country. The stories of Michael Levin, Alex Singer, and Damien Rosovsky, young boys who made aliyah from around the world to join the army, all of whom died as heroes protecting their country and my ability to live here. I cry together with the nation at the singing of hatikva and the recitation of kaddish. I stand united with my people to honor our dead, to recognize the sacrifice, and pray to never see the number of fallen rise again.

While I may not mourn a personal loss, I certainly do take part in the national grief. I do not mourn the loss of a father, brother or friend but I grieve over the loss of my people. I mourn the national loss in the constant struggle for Jewish survival in this holy country. It is this communal sorrow, the combined pain and pride, that reminds us of the ties that bond us. May we live to see peace and unity within our country and may we never again know the tremendous pain and sorrow of another loss.