This is a reminder to all Jews that a family once lived in a small shtetl in Poland in the 19th century. One day, they heard horses galloping and then saw the drunken men riding them, pulling knives from their scabbards and waving them above their heads, yelling, “Kill the Jews.”
This is a reminder to all Jews on Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut that the family scattered to the nearby trees, but never exited the forest to safety, because the venomous thugs rode hard with a relentless commitment to finding them, knowing there was no country for the family to run to.
This is a reminder on Israel’s 64th birthday that once in Berlin, a Jewish factory owner had a wife by the name of Pearl and five children, all of whom were proficient in Torah learning and piano. This is a reminder that one morning, he returned to his factory and found glass everywhere and saw ashes blowing past him, and big iron beams lay melted at his feet.
This is a reminder to all of us that this family had nowhere to hide, no country to flee to, no nation that didn’t believe “none is too many,” and that one day soon after, the family perished inside a camp, barricaded inside by barbed wire and degraded by the worst corrosion of nature.
This is a reminder to all Diaspora Jews that thousands of Israeli parents have sent their children to the Jewish army, and sometimes to war, and many never saw them alive again. This is a reminder that these young Jewish soldiers took a bullet for every Jew then and every Jew now.
This is a reminder to the Jewish People that our State of Israel is an anomaly because of its diminutive size and burgeoning growth, and because of its absolute refusal to cower to the pogroms of today, cloaked in the guise of missiles and resolutions.
This is a reminder to the world that Eretz Yisrael is the homeland of the Jewish People, a haven for every Jew who might have previously hid among the foliage of fear, and that while we will negotiate, we will never run and we will never scatter, for it is said, “I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the Land of Israel again” (Ezekiel 11:17).
Rest in peace, you Jewish men and women, you Druze and Bedouin, who knew that a shot from the enemy’s revolver might some day take you in war or through terrorism, but regardless, you donned the fatigues of bravery.
We embrace your legacy of heroism and thank your parents and families for the ultimate sacrifice of a child, brother, sister or grandchild.
Happy birthday to our State of Israel, born on Iyar 5, 5708 (May 14, 1948). While Moses was never allowed to enter your gates, we know that we have the right to return – should we want to, should we need to. This is a reminder. For this we sing and dance in your honour and thank God for this land, a gift to the Jewish People and all nations.
“We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel.” – Golda Meir