Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Lost opportunity — Hachmatza!

I find the best thing to do when stressed is to go into the kitchen and bake strudels. I needed them anyway to give to my hosts at the Yom HaAtzmaut  brunch I will be attending tomorrow, also the hazkara on Friday in memory of my beloved refusenik  “Volodia Zeev Prestin,  who was a leader of the FSU activists.

Busy hands yes, ears and a mind that can be connected to the world outside, by opening the radio and listening to Reshet Bet.

On this day, we remember and pay tribute to the fallen sons, daughters, fathers, brothers, sisters, and parents, due to enemy hostility and to terrorist brutality. Some also remember those who died before their time, not necessarily in battle.

Losing a child is indescribable, I can only say it felt like something had been torn out of my womb, when my son died from multiple myeloma.

After the army, he had been involved  in activities on behalf of this country, which may not be disclosed and go unrecorded?

So hearing the stories this morning from people of all walks of life and ages,I weep not for him but for all the needless waste of lives of promising talented, caring and courageous, mostly young human beings.

Then the announcer read out a poem.  It was about all those things a young man would have done had he lived. The tears erupted and I stopped everything I was doing  and sat down and listened to every word.

At the end he announced the title  of the poem, “Hachmatza,” and the name of the author.

The person who wrote it is in a position to lead people forward to seek ways to bring peace or at least, an end to conflict on a daily basis.

He could carry voters to a different place. For after all aren’t we all bereaved families? There cannot be one who will not honestly say….this must end.  We must not be forced to live by the sword especially when we are a beacon in so many ways in our region. With a strong and dedicated,highly motivated and technologically advanced army we should be strong. Yet inside we are weak. We are afraid,we accept the pain and loss. We  expect more from our leaders and “do not know how to ask”

Tonight we will welcome the light after a dark day emotionally.  As Jews we have this ability, for  in our belief life is the most precious thing we possess. It is God given.

What will we feel after the ceremonies the music and dance, followed by picnics and barbecues in every nook and cranny of our wondrous land?

Last night I was privileged to be with Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians,giving expression with honesty and without malice to the anguish,sorrow and despair, felt by both our societies.

Around 3,000 people were together in a decorous atmosphere with exquisite music and  sensitive artistic collaboration. Not one politically charged word. The message from the stadium where we sat was sent around the world by

The message was that we have a shared experience of tragedy and loss and  are mutually bound to this land. We want to end the bloodshed and live as “normal” people should!

To close the ceremony the Rana choir sang their special rendering of “Had Gadya” ending…”for how long…….?”

We have borne the weight of “Hachmatza” for too long.

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.