Monday, April 19, 2010

Sorrow, joy and ash

It’s a little after 11:00 am, and the sirens have just sounded for the second time on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day here in Israel). Last night they sounded for one minute, this morning for two. This time of year always reaches into the depths of my soul and provokes such intense feelings. This Memorial Day/Independence Day is our fourth here in Israel and the emotions that the sirens evoke in me are just as raw and powerful today as they were our first year here. I have seen videos and read articles about soldiers who have lost their lives so that we could live ours. I have witnessed families’ faith in Israel’s right to exist persevere in the face of their ultimate tragedy. I am humbled by and in awe of them.

As I walked across Efrat this morning I encountered a group of soldiers on the top of my favorite forest hill, about which I wrote last year at this time. We spoke for a few minutes, and as I went on my way, I thanked them for keeping guard over us. I soon walked past schools and nurseries to see children of all ages, dressed in blue and white, playing outside during recess. I walked past the army’s display of tanks etc. that is already set up for tomorrow’s Independence Day’s celebration. Music about the land of Israel is blaring out of my son’s school around the corner from my apartment. In each scene I encountered as I walked along, I saw a different facet of Israel’s strength: the ability to defend itself, the laughter of our children, the pride in being Jewish and the Nation of Israel’s unbreakable connection to its ancestral homeland.

As the sky darkens this evening, we will make the transition from sorrow to joy as Independence Day arrives. Israeli flags are everywhere: on homes, buildings, cars, parks, and along highways. The Shield of David blowing in the wind is a sight that never fails to thrill me. The music will blast, the dancing will commence, fireworks will light up the sky, and the smell of barbecues will fill the air. The gratitude I feel today is mixed with sorrow. Tonight my gratitude and pride will have its source in joy. My heart will be full of thanks to the Almighty for: bringing my family here; (actually, I am thankful for that everyday.); that my children are proud Israelis; that my children walk the Torah every single day; that we are part of an ancient people, living in a modern, yet long ago prophesied, miracle.

As I walked in the sunshine today, my thoughts also turned to Europe. I thought of the different natural disasters that have devastated countries throughout the four corners of the world in recent years. We have witnessed tsunamis, earthquakes, and floods that have paralyzed nations. Mother Nature has now, once again, unleashed its fury. This week,a volcano has erupted in Europe spewing its smoke and embers into the sky. Air travel has been crippled. Sixty-two years ago this week, the State of Israel was born out of the ashes of Europe and this week, Europe, ironically, is covered in ash.

Zichronam L’Bracha (may the memory of our fallen be for a blessing).

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful words from a beautiful lady. You write well, Leora. Great imagery: Europe covered in ash. Very apt.