Sally Joseph is one of two young Israeli emissaries serving Temple Sinai this year. Sally and her partner, Shalev Fried, work within the congregation to teach about Israel, imbue a love of Israel, and make a meaningful connection with our congregants. In commemoration of Yom haZikaron, the day of Remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terror in the land of Israel, Sally wrote this moving address.
Today is Yom haZikaron. There can be no better way to remember than by sharing Sally’s profound words.
Every year, the state of Israel commemorates those who were killed fighting for our country, and those who perished due to acts of terrorism with the sounding of a siren. The siren is a noise that is heard throughout the entire country on Memorial Day. The purpose of the siren is to signal a halt of all daily activities for all people around Israel, creating the somber atmosphere that goes with this day of mourning. At the same time, every car stops, people walking in the street all stop their business and the siren enters the souls of the people.
I want to tell you about a very meaningful experience that I had a year ago. As part of a scouts youth organization, I volunteered to stand as a ‘guard’ in front of a memorial, ‘hametzavah’, which means the Monument. I stood for half an hour, looking straight, thinking deeply about the memories of that day. After twenty minutes, the siren started, and I witnessed the entire country immediately come to a halt.
While I was standing during the siren, remembering the soldiers that had died, I did not only feel grief and sorrow, but pride for my country and the fact that I was part of it. For those of us who have never lost a close friend or relative due to a war or terrorist act, the siren is the way to understand, or at least to try to understand the meaning of such a difficult loss. I will never be able to sympathize with those who have lost someone so dear no matter how hard I try. Being a Jew, and citizen of Israel, I can respect them and commemorate them, even just for a tiny moment, which symbolizes so much.
I will never be able to thank them for what they did, even after I become part of the army and have the chance to defend our state, my home, with my own hands. But I will always be able to remember and respect them, while continuing to do what they did for our country.
Every day we remember what they accomplished, but on this day, we will remember what they could have been and never will have the chance to be.
This year during the sounding of the siren, the state of Israel will think about another family that was murdered just two months ago by terrorists from Gaza. All of us will add to our memories five souls from the ‘Fogel’ family, a family that lived in the settlement of ‘Itmar’ and who were murdered in cold blood, on the evening of saturday, March 12th 2011.
Especially in these difficult moments, it is forbidden to surrender to terrorist organizations. It is important for us to keep our hopes up as a Jewish nation and to believe that there will be a brighter future. A future that will not include any more war or loss of life. A future in which everyone can live in peace and harmony. But we should not only hope for a brighter future, we must create it by working together, as hope is only the first step to a brighter future.
Sally and Shalev give me great hope for the State of Israel.