We recently finished observing the eight day holiday of Pesach, a time when we remember the wretchedness of slavery and the subsequent joy of freedom. Pesach was quickly followed by Yom haShoah, a day of memory for victims of the Holocaust. Now, one week later we are observing Yom haZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut.
These two last days are right beside each other. This year, 2016, Yom haZikaron is on Wednesday May 11 and Yom Ha’Atzmaut is on Thursday May 12. These two days are modern observances, introduced to us with the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
Future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced the founding of the State of Israel on the 5th of Iyar, which corresponded to May 14, 1948.
As soon as the fledgling country was established its neighbours declared war, hoping to annihilate it. Over six thousand young men and women died, defending their rights to a Jewish State. Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) is observed the day before Israel Independence Day to honour and remember those who lost their lives defending the barely formed country.
Unfortunately the fighting has never ended. There have been too many wars against Israel and the fighting has never stopped. Each year more lives are lost, more Israeli soldiers killed defending their neighbours and fellow Israelis. Each year innocent Israeli civilians are killed by enemies who want to destroy our beautiful Israeli homeland. We remember these wonderful people and honour them, knowing that they would want us to continue celebrating Israel’s accomplishments and victories.
I looked at the Torah portions we read during these weeks. I was struck by the names of the portions we read the week before and after Israeli Memorial Day and Israeli Independence Day.
The names of these two neighbouring parshiot describe our two holidays perfectly . אחרי מות “Acharei Mot” means “After the Death”, and קדושים “Kedoshim” means “Holinesses” – or “You Shall be Holy”. Even the titles given to the Torah readings remind us of the modern country of Israel. We are reminded of the people who have died since 1948 defending our right to exist, and our responsibility to cultivate Israel, celebrate and experience Israel, and ultimately to live in Israel, our country.
Below you can watch the incredible acroyoga flashmob “dance ” by the amazing Israeli choreographer Ofir Gothilf. It took place in Tel Aviv’s HaBima Square a couple of months ago. The love of life is so wonderful!!!!
Happy 68th Birthday, Israel, and many many more! Love, Laya!
(Below, links about Yom HaZikaron)