8:00 p.m.: A one-minute long siren heralds the beginning of Yom Hazikaron. And then the clichés: “with their deaths, they gave us life” We live safely in the miracle that is the State of Israel because of those who protect us and put their lives on the line. Cliches that are the truth.
Every year we attend the local community ceremony in our neighborhood of Baka in southern Jerusalem. At this year’s ceremony, the representative of the municipality spoke poignantly of a fellow student whose life was suddenly cut off. A student who never failed his exams and also never passed them. A student who never missed a class and never attended a class. A student who never did become a lawyer.
This year the ceremony centered on the siblings of the fallen. Various community members rose and quoted the haunting words of the brothers and sisters of the fallen. The speakers were not introduced by name; rather the only names mentioned were the names of the victim and his or her sibling. The siblings could only be heard through the throats of the speakers.
Suddenly all of the petty quarrels, which mar our existence, disappear. The choir include women soloists with evocative voices. . The Rabbis listen to them and address the families of the fallen and the community. Representatives of the secular youth movement Hashomer Hatzair lay a wreath together with representatives Bnei Akiva, the national religious movement. Everyone together, united by grief and by memories.
I have become familiar with the over 70 names of the Baka fallen which are read every year. This year, thank G-d no new names were added. Many of the names have become familiar. The names of the Fogel family include the young children so brutally murdered just a few short years ago. Naot Weitzman, the name of a young soldier killed in an accident who was the classmate of my daughter in primary school. But three names always ring loud and clear – Charlie Shalush, , Iris Azouli and Eli Alteritz . They were murdered in Baka and I remember very clearly hearing about the murders and the shadow it cast on the day.
What I did not know then was that 18 months after the murders we would move into our home in Baka. I often walk past two memorials, which are only a few meters from our house. Each time I walk past, l I think of the day that they were murdered and the fact that this tragic day was also the day of my greatest joy, the day that I got married.
May their memories be a blessing and yes, it is because of the fallen that we are here today.