There are three major Jewish events during this time of the year which we have observed this past month. They are not biblical or traditional holidays yet they are extremely important, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day for the fallen Israeli soldiers and Israel Independence Day.
For the nations of the world the memory of the Holocaust with all of its unthinkable horrors has tended to fade over the decades. For most of these nations the Holocaust is now nothing more than a terrible historical event that happened a long time ago - pass the salt, please.
The world is now too busy with new villains and new nations fiercely competing for economical hegemony and military control over others.
Not Us. At least not in Israel. This year as Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated April 8th, I watched some of the many memorial events throughout Israel that day. I was privileged to see the grandchildren and the great grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, either as proud soldiers, regular citizens or school children standing still for a moment of silence in the streets everywhere, in the busy highways, in army camps. It became very clear to anyone who listened to the speeches and watched the reactions of Israelis throughout the country that the eighty years that have passed since the early 40’s are but a day to the Israelis.
While the horrors of that time are not talked about or even mentioned on a regular basis they are nevertheless embedded deep in the Israeli psyche. If we understand this, we can see how these dark, forever fresh memories guide their determination to survive and prosper, giving them the courage and the fortitude to proudly create and maintain the most amazing country in the world.
As I am writing these words a week later after Holocaust Remembrance and a day after Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day for the soldiers, Israel is celebrating Yom Ha-atz-ma-ut, her 73rd year of independence. A free Jewish country that was born from the Jewish ashes of Europe. A country which is fighting for its survival day in and day out. No other country in the world faces the kind of danger that Israel is facing .These existential threats are the worst Israel has ever experienced since its War of Independence in 1948.
With literally hundreds of thousands of missiles pointing at her from Lebanon in the north, Syria in the east, Gaza in the west, the mighty Egyptian army and navy in the South and a powerful Iranian army with a huge arsenal of long range missiles, we are being targeted with a deep hatred.
While the IDF remains strong and is vigorously working on ways to protect itself, these challenges seem insurmountable, an impossible task. Israeli generals are of the opinion that it would still take years of technological improvements and breakthroughs as well as significantly increasing the IDF manpower, equipment as well as adopting new training and war tactics to meet such dangerous threats. And all these while dealing on a regular basis with terrorist attacks from Lebanon and Gaza extensively supported by Iran.
Israel needs us to be aware of this new reality of the Middle East. We need to make sure that the US remains on Israel's side and supports it unequivocally. Our beloved state of Israel will always overcome any existential threats and will always thrive and do amazing things for the betterment of the world.
So in this 73rd year of Israel’s independence as we continue to celebrate Jewish pride and achievements each day, I pray that G-D Almighty keeps Israel and the Jewish people everywhere safe and prosperous as has been promised. We have survived thousands of years. May it continue as G-D gives Israel the wisdom, the strength to overcome its many challenges.
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