Monday, April 19, 2010
Remembering and Celebrating - 62 Years
At precisely midnight last night in Phoenix, the clock struck 10am in Israel and a loud siren sounded for two minutes. Traffic stopped. Workers stopped and pedestrians stopped. Everyone and everything stopped. And remembered. The Country stopped to remember the thousands who have given their lives, so that we may live ours.
At midnight last night in Phoenix, Arizona, I listened to "Reshet Gimel", the all Israeli Music radio station from Jerusalem, as names of fallen heroes were read, one at a time, along with their rank, home town and age. As surviving fathers called in to the radio station, and dedicated their son or daughter's favorite song to their blessed memories, I felt at once proud to be a Jew; to be a Zionist; a Rabbi and teacher of Judaics and of Israel and a future Oleh, but at the same time, I felt guilty to be standing alone next to my bed in Arizona, instead of standing with our brothers and sisters in stopped traffic in Nahariya or Eilat.
I felt the pain of those fathers who had called the radio station, and the mothers who would never again greet their children on Friday evening; and I felt the pain of my friend, my brother, Ron Kehrman, who wrote in today's YNet section of Israel's Yedioth Acharonoth of his beloved Tal, who was murdered by terrorists 2,602 days ago; and I felt the pain of Noam and Aviva Shalit, who have been praying for the safe return of their son, Gilad for 1,395 days since his capture.
We remember the friends that we lost, and we remember the brothers and sisters that we never met. We remember the victims of the Beach Road attack, and our athletes in Munich; Mike's Place and the Country Club and the Passover Seder in Haifa. We remember our fathers and uncles and cousins who fought for our independence in 1948 and we remember the heroes that valiantly served in Gaza just a year ago. We remember Astronaut Ilan Ramon who perished on the Space Shuttle Columbia, and we remember Yoni Netanyahu who bravely led his men into Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July 4, 1976 to save Jews hijacked on an Air France flight to Paris.
And as I stood and silently said Kaddish, quietly asking G-d for the strength to continue, while magnifying His name, I prayed that this, please G-d, be the last year that we add names to the list of fallen brothers and sisters. And after shedding more than a few tears, I remembered that in less than twenty-four hours, we will be celebrating Yom haAtzmaut, Israel's 62nd birthday. A birthday made possible partly by the heroism of those whom we had just remembered, and whose lives must be avenged; not necessarily by bloodshed, but by our mere survival, which depends, solely on us.
Our survival means Israel's survival . They are synonymous. The survival of our State is absolute in like to survival of our people. Period. And in order for our State to survive, and in turn for our people to survive, we must, without question, see the following take place:
We must see an increase in our population within Israel. This means Aliyah. This means packing up our toys and going home. This means, if we are serious about saving our State, if we meant it when we said "Next year in Jerusalem" just three weeks ago at the end of our Seder meals, then, the time is now. Not next week, not next month, not next year. The time is now to go to the Nefesh b'Nefesh website and start the process. It is time to go home.
We must have Israeli leadership that believes in (1) a Jewish Israel; (2) a One State Solution with those who call themselves Palestinians, by either disarming them and their acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, or face immediate deportation from Israel and her territories; and (3) a Leader who will not be bullied by foreign nations dictating our rights as a sovereign State.
We must see a change in the way that we treat each other. We must eliminate these labels that do nothing, but divide us as a people. We are Jews. Does it matter if we are Orthodox Jews or Reform Jews or Martian Jews? Do we honestly think that G-d cares? We have 613 Mitzvot to perform (less Mitzvot specifically regarding the Beit Mikdash [Temple and Sacrifices]). Let's do our best. It would help, however, if we at least would remember to try and like each other, and treat each other in a manner that would not be hateful to ourselves, were we treated alike.
We must remember that this world was created by G-d. We must treat it as such. What do you think these earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanoes are all about? G-d is talking to us. Shouldn't we listen?
When the sun goes down tonight, the date will change to 5 Iyar. Sixty two years ago, on 5 Iyar, at the Tel Aviv Museum, David Ben Gurion and others gathered to proclaim the formation of the Jewish State, The State of Israel.
Through seven wars and with the grace of G-d, we have survived.
Our little Country has given the world technology that we use every day, including Instant Messenger software, Cell Phone technologies and Texting capabilities. Israel has given the world 9 Nobel Laureates; and has more companies listed on NASDAQ than any other Country, save for the United States. I could go on and on.
Instead, I'll ask you to go out today, and find a good Falafel. If you cannot find one where you are, go online and find the Nefesh b'Nefesh website (http://www.nbn.org.il/) and make plans to go home.
From the Midbar that we call Arizona, Ahavah u'vrachot, Love and Blessings...
--Rabbi Alan Abrams