Debra Weiner-Solomont

Who is the torch lighting ceremony for?

(Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
(Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Israel is about to celebrate its 75th birthday. The huge celebration of our independence day —  Yom HaAtzmaut — comes on the heels of Israel’s memorial day — Yom HaZikaron. The country transitions from the solemn memorial day to the exciting celebration of the birth of the nation. The main celebration takes place on Har Herzl. Thousands of people will be in the audience. But I will not be one of them.

I came on aliyah with my family 30 years ago. We have made a home here, our five sons have served in the army. My children  live in Israel, have families of their own and we can now boast 14 grandchildren.

We learned Hebrew, we learned how to negotiate the school system, the army, health services and more. We have grandchildren who only speak Hebrew. We have had many “only in Israel” experiences. We even get the jokes on Eretz Nehederet. Our dream though, has been to attend the Torch Lighting ceremony. Sounds like a small request, doesn’t it!

One of our sons took it upon himself to try to make this happen for us. He wrote a beautiful letter to Miri Regev’s office and to many others. Miri Regev responded, saying that, while she was very moved by the letter, “tell your parents that they can watch the ceremony on TV.”

There will be empty seats at the ceremony. Most of the tickets were given to those who came to Israel to participate in the General Assembly. Some of those ticket holders will not attend. Other tickets were given out to Knesset members. This morning, Knesset member Meir Cohen announced on a morning news program, that he would not be attending the ceremony. When asked what he would do with the tickets, he responded that he may offer them to his children, otherwise those seats will be empty! 

Tickets should be made available to the “regular” people. Those of us who don’t have “protexia,” but want to celebrate and truly share the joy of this country that we have the privilege to live in, not just visit.

We jumped many hurdles 30 years ago, upon coming on aliyah. Living here and bringing up our family here was our choice. Our family came here to make a home in a place where we belong. 

 We had the  privilege to participate  in a moving community memorial event this evening. I sat with two of my grandchildren, as young members of the local youth movement  shared stories and photos of friends and others who died in battle, murdered in terror attacks. The last stories were those of the pairs of family members, father and daughter, married couple, siblings who were murdered. This is the most Israeli moment.  Only those of us who live here can understand.

I am not giving up on my dream to attend the torch ceremony. In the meantime, wishing everyone a Chag Sameach. We will be watching the ceremony on TV!

About the Author
Debra Weiner-Solomont is the coordinator of the Pardes Institute Community Education Program. She received her MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Debra along with her husband and sons came on aliyah from Brookline, MA. 30 years ago.
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