Yesterday, we commemorated our fallen. A personal and collective day of grief.
Yom Hazikaron L’Hallalei Ma’arachot Yisrael is the day’s full name.
“Hallal.” A Hebrew word translated as a void, a space, a vacuum, a casualty.
Twenty-four hours after the siren wails ushering in the void, 24 hours after we have wept into that painful space, 24 hours after we bow our heads in sorrow peering into that bottomless pit of anguish, we celebrate our country’s birth.
That empty painful space is blanketed with street parties, with young people waving flags as they dance and sing. Faces filled with hope.
That void is filled by torch-lighting ceremonies, torches lit by ordinary Israelis, larger than life role models who have dedicated their lives to making our country a better place, filling a gaping hole that our society somehow failed to fill.
That vacuum is packed with presidential honorary citations for soldiers, Israeli Air Force flyovers, winners of the annual Bible contest, smoke from street barbecues, and the Israel Prize, the State’s highest honor given for contributions to arts and culture.
On the other side of Memorial Day’s anguished cries are sounds of rejoicing, perhaps sheer amazement at ourselves that we really did this thing.
We stumbled through the day yesterday, through the stories of loss, through the pain, through the national grief. We traveled over a running river of tears to celebrate the birth of our nation 74 years ago.
And while we have filled yesterday’s void with today’s celebrations, there is constant unease that tomorrow’s hope will be shattered, creating a new wound, adding to next year’s vacuum and the endless abyss of loss.
On Memorial Day 2023, one year from now, the cycle will begin again.
The sirens will wail ushering in the void. And again, for twenty-four hours, we will weep into that painful space. Again, for twenty-four hours, we will bow our heads in sorrow peering into that bottomless pit of anguish.
And again, we will celebrate, this time our country’s 75th birthday.
Same time next year.