Leora Jaffe Steinman

8:04pm Erev Yom HaZikaron 5784

יום הזיכרון 5784 

8:04pm Erev Yom HaZikaron 5784. May 12, 2024. 

I knew the memorial siren was going to ring at 8:00pm and still it made me jump. 

A similar memorial siren rang last Monday for Yom HaShoah, but this one pierced my soul in a different way. 

Sometimes when I feel an internal emotional clog, words flow out of me easily and relieve the clog. Today the words are not coming out easily, but here goes: 

The first Israeli Memorial and Independence Day since October 7, 2023, Simchat Torah 5784. 

Every year bereaved families say that every day is a memorial day for them, and the national Memorial Day is for the entire nation to remember. This year, the whole nation, the whole Jewish world, has been feeling memorial day for over seven months. People evacuated from their homes, soldiers still not home, hostages missing, and thousands of Israelis gone. 

This year the IDF asked civilians not to visit military cemeteries during the national tekes (ceremony) tomorrow morning so that all the new bereaved families have the physical and emotional space they need to grieve. How sad. So many, too many, new bereaved families. Even one additional family would be too many, and this year some of the graves are still fresh. 

And what about tomorrow? What about Yom HaAtzmaut? Why do I, and the entire nation, feel a similar anxiety about Independence Day that we do about Memorial Day? 

How are we supposed to celebrate when we are still in the middle of the war? 


How can we not celebrate, even though we are still in the middle of the war, that we are still here? We are still here! We will always be here! עם ישראל חי!

If there was ever a year in the 21st century that we saw how much we need the State of Israel it would be this year. They tried to destroy us. They broke through the fence and entered our homes early Shabbat morning. They try to scare us in the streets and fight us out of prestigious universities. But where else are we supposed to go?


Always Israel. 

The home of the Jewish people. The home of our forefathers and foremothers. The home people dreamed about for 2,000 years and now we have it. 

Now we have the IDF – the Israel Defense Forces. Read that again, defense. We are not an offensive army. We are here to protect the Jewish people and ensure their safety and existence. 

And now, how do you end an essay about something that is still happening? These feelings will not go away until every last person is home. But so many will never come home, so these feelings will never go away. 

Thank you Hashem for the State of Israel. We pray that we should only know peace, safety, and security. Return our hostages, protect our chayalim, and heal those who are wounded – physically and emotionally. These are short prayers, yet they are loaded with so much weight that only G-d can answer them. 

About the Author
Leora made Aliyah as a young adult in 2013. She has seven years of experience working in nonprofit resource development. Since she writes for a living, sometimes she finds it easiest to express her thoughts and emotions through writing too.
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