50 years ago- Yom Kippur 1973- the third Jewish commonwealth stood on the precipice of the abyss. Israeli heroism and sacrifice eventually saved the day as well as the unbroken Jewish chain of memory and heritage. Faced with impossible odds Israel and her people displayed a level of unimaginable courage to prevail and to proudly perpetuate further glorious chapters in the unlikely history of the Jews.
Many of our gallant warriors did not return to recount their exploits on the battlefield. Many retuned from the front maimed for life. Many others suffered psychological breakdowns either from the fiery hell of war or from the torture they experienced as prisoners of war- or both. Families were torn apart- the damage irreparable.
The Israeli hinterland lay exposed to the enemy when Avigdor Kahalani with just a few tanks and men held back the marauding masses of Syrians on the Golan heights and counter attacked towards Damascus. Likewise in the Sinai desert the IDF snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and boldly struck across the Suez Canal to surround the Egyptian Third Army.
It is said that external threat unites us, but we know now just how damaging war can be. Conflict is never the answer. Although it requires a distinctly different brand of courage from that displayed in all of Israel’s battles it does take bravery and vision to work for consensus, compromise, and coexistence.
May 5784 bring peace among ourselves and peace with those who have hitherto sought to harm us. May the new year be the time when we are all imbued with the spirit expounded upon by the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of blessed memory- “The ability to recognize the other as being created in the image of G-d.”