24 April 2015
The siren seemed to go on forever.
I stood with 1,000 others who gathered at B’nai Israel Congregation this past Wednesday night for the annual Yom HaZikaron commemoration. The wail of the siren, similar to what those living in Israel hear on both Yom HaShoa and Yom HaZikaron, took two brief, yet agonizingly long minutes. It was a modern-day electronic shofar blast, jarring our individual senses, focusing our individual thoughts and unifying us as a people.
Two minutes to reflect on the 23,320 Israeli soldiers and victims of terror killed since 1860, the year Jews first began to settle outside Jerusalem. Two minutes to mourn and to feel gratitude for their sacrifice. Two minutes to stand in silence.
And through the silence, I heard the cacophony of individual grief and the harmony of collective pride and dreams.
We recalled lives cut down much too soon in brave defense of Israel or as innocent victims of terror. And most importantly, we recalled their names. In Israel, there is no Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Each and every lost and loved one has a name and a history. And each name is to be recalled, revered and remembered – forever.
Yehuda Amichai wrote:
A man doesn’t have time in his life
To have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.
A man doesn’t have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
He forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.
The transition from Yom HaZikaron to Yom Ha’atzmaut is immediate, even abrupt. But, before we celebrated Israel’s 67th birthday, we stood together earlier this week as a Washington Jewish community; standing in solidarity with Israelis in our community and indeed with all of Israel – to remember and to never forget.
Od yavo shalom aleinu. Peace will yet come to us.
Steven A. Rakitt, Chief Executive Officer
Join the Greater Washington Jewish community as we celebrate Israel’s 67th year of independence.
Delight your senses with the sights, sounds and flavors of Israeli culture at two unforgettable festivals in Maryland and Northern Virginia featuring everything from Israeli dancing to live entertainment to craft activities and so much more! Learn more
Presented by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the JCC of Greater Washington, and the JCC of Northern Virginia.
Here are ways to Make It Yours:
- Join Mitzvah Mavens for the 3rd Annual Holocaust Survivors Luncheon on Sunday, May 3.
- Learn about Visrael, an innovative, online educational tool about Israel for children living in the diaspora.
- Apply now to the Alumni Leadership Mission to Israel, a highly subsidized, premier leadership development program for DCs 20s and 30s.
- Volunteer with Jewish Food Experience as we prepare and serve meals to local women in-need at N Street Village on Sunday, May 17.
- Check out fun Israel birthday festivities throughout our community all month long!
- Click here to access the full community calendar