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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims

Like many of my readers, I grew up in the United States of America. For most Americans, Memorial Day is now a Monday holiday that provides a long weekend to enjoy baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and the first barbecue of summer.

I was even once in England on November 11 (which is Veterans Day in the United States, but as I understand it is England's equivalent to Memorial Day). It seemed like everyone was walking around with red poppies on their lapels, but otherwise it seemed like a normal day.

Here in Israel, today is Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims. It's a very different experience from my youth in the United States. No, I'm not talking about the fact that there's a siren that goes off during which everyone is supposed to stand silent at 8:00 pm and 11:00 am. From my perspective, the siren is irrelevant. What's moving about this day is the dirge-like music interspersed with hour after hour of radio interviews with loved ones of people who fell in Israel's battles and in terror attacks - and after nearly 18 years in this country and most of the last eight and a half years telling the outside world about the 'matzav' (situation) - the connection I feel to them. There are 7.4 million Israelis and we have lost 22,700+ soldiers in the line of duty and over 1700 terror victims. You do the math. Everyone here - and I do mean everyone - knows someone or knows someone who knows someone who died.

This afternoon, I had to run out to a doctor's appointment. As I was driving to the appointment, I had the main ceremony in memory of terror victims on the radio - it was taking place nearby at Mount Herzl. Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg got up to speak. For those to whom the name is not familiar, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg is a resident of Afula in northern Israel - where one of my sons was in yeshiva for two and a half years. Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg is also the father of Rivki Holzberg HY"D (may God avenge her blood). Rivki and her husband Rabbi Gavriel (Gabi) Holzberg HY"D were the Lubavitch emissaries who were murdered in Mumbai in November of this past year. Fortunately, I was pulling into a traffic light as Rabbi Rosenberg spoke about his grandson Moshe (pictured above) - the treasure that his daughter and son-in-law left behind - and his nurse "Miss Sandra," whom he called chasidat umot ha'olam (one of the righteous gentiles. Fortunately - because I almost lost it.

If anyone sees a video of that speech (even in Hebrew without subtitles), please drop me an email and I will try to grab it for you.

בלע המות לנצח ומחה ה' אלקים דמעה מעל כל פנים וחרפת עמו יסיר מעל כל הארץ כי ה' דבר

God will wipe out death forever and erase the tears from every face, and remove His nation's disgrace from the entire land, for God has spoken (Isaiah 25:8).


At 8:35 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I look forward to a world in which death will be no more but Carl you and I being mortal human beings are not graced to see it. But one day, no one will ever have to shed tears for those they love again.

May that be the will of Our Father in Heaven. Amen.


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