In honor of Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day), I wrote something short to share with my family and close friends. I want to also share this with my Times of Israel family:
Today is Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day), 8 days ago was Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Rememberance Day) and yesterday was Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), in a matter of 24 hours we transitioned from tragedy to happiness. We remember those who lost their lives in defense of the State of Israel and then celebrate Israel’s independence.
I remember attending my first Memorial Day service when I was living in Jerusalem at a small local ceremony in the neighborhood I was living in. The emotion and power of the stories told still resonate with me to this today. I remember each year standing in silence when the siren blared along with the rest of the country to remember those who fell. Specifically being on a bus on King George Street in Jerusalem running errands like any day and the bus stopping along with every other car while we honored the fallen. The collective pause from routine to remember the fallen is something that I struggle to describe in words, rather it can only really be felt.
Then immediately that evening transitioning from Memorial Day to Independence Day, transitioning from mourning to happiness. Everyone wore blue and white, barbeques were at every park, and the parties lasted all night. We are reminded that they sacrificed so that we can live, and live we shall!
There are a few lessons we learn and remind ourselves of every year:
- We are thankful to have an independent Jewish country that can defend itself. Imagine if the State of Israel had existed before the Holocaust had occured and how many millions of lives would have been saved.
- Thankfully Israel was established as an independent, sovereign state and was able to rescue Jews (and others) from persecution when the world was silent, from post-World War Two Europe to Iraq to the former Soviet Union to Ethiopia.
- We are reminded even today how important it is that the State of Israel exists and is strong. We are reminded that even in the 21st century Jews still face persecution in Europe, for example in France, and that wars still occur, for example today in Ukraine, and that thankfully thousands of Jews have a safe place to flee to and call home. Even here in the United States anti-Semitic acts are at an all time high. Now more than ever we should maintain an active connection with Israel on a regular basis and keep the country strong and secure.
It is easy for us living our comfortable lives to forget the sacrifices and continued struggle that allowed and continues to allow Israel to exist. We are blessed to not face persecution on a daily basis and to live in a world where Israel exists. On this Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, let us celebrate 74 years of independence and freedom.