Saturday, January 25, 2020

So many of us have been in Israel when a single, somber droning sound fills the air. People in cars, hurrying to destinations, pull their cars over, get out and stand in respect. Others stop and stand, be they in shops, classrooms, homes or outside for a walk.

It is, of course, a moment that pulls our thoughts away from the trivial, the mundane, and gives focus to the memory of those brave soldiers of Israel who have given the full measure, their lives, for their family, friends and countrymen.

Perhaps moments before the siren’s wail, our minds were occupied with the oft-nonsensical national election controversies or, for that matter, the infighting of local political office seekers. Maybe we were thinking of our own post-Pesach fatigue, putting away the holiday dishes and restocking our kitchen shelves.

Now, though, just as we are leaving the season of our Exodus and freedom, we come to days that call for our solemn remembrance of the Shoah, the independence of Medinat Yisroel and the price Israelis paid with their lives for that independence during Yom Hazikaron.

Please find the opportunity to commemorate the Holocaust on Yom Hashoah (May 5), Memorial Day on Yom Hazikaron (May 11) and Israel’s Independence Day on Yom Ha’atzmaut (May 12).

The Jewish people are inextricably connected to all of these dates. We will never forget the generations who were family members and friends annihilated during the Shoah. We share several such stories this week, and look forward to sharing many reports next week from various enclaves about community-based Yom Hashoah events.

And in Israel next week, like the sound of the shofar, Israelis and visitors will separate themselves from the mundane as they hear the all-encompassing sad wail of the siren marking Yom Hazikaron. In the Diaspora we do not hear this clarion call. Israel’s military cemeteries will be crowded with extended families and groups of friends getting back in touch with the tears they cry every year at this time for their lost loved ones. And, finally, after the somber memorial day, Israelis will get an opportunity to celebrate.

We ask you to observe these days first with reverence and then with joy. It is our duty, our connection to our Jewry and our salute to those in Israel who came before and all who have yet to arrive.