What I’m Feeling this Yom HaZikaron

What I’m Feeling this Yom HaZikaron

I’ve spent much of this Yom HaZikaron sitting with my kids watching ceremonies honoring the fallen soldiers and remembering the pain and grief of the families and friends they left behind.

I heard the story of idealistic 22-year-old Michael Levin, an American lone soldier and the grandson of a survivor of Auschwitz,  who chose to return to Israel several weeks early from his annual family visit because he was so determined to fight alongside his unit in Lebanon, where he was tragically killed. I heard the story of Brigadier General Erez Gerstein, killed in Lebanon in 1999, and about his only son, Omer, who was only a year-old when his father was killed but who has chosen to follow in the footsteps of the father he never knew as an IDF commander.  I heard about the unbearable predicament of Simcha Ken-Dror, the mother of 2 fallen soldiers, Yehuda and Eliyahu, in the War of Independence and the Kadesh Operation. Yehuda and Eliyahu were buried several rows from one another, and every Yom HaZikaron she would go back and forth between them, saying, “I’m sorry, Yehuda, but I think I should be with Eliyahu now.” And then, a little later, “I’m sorry Eliyahu, but I think I should go back to spend time with Yehuda…”         

Today, the 4th of Iyar, is known in Jewish mysticism as Hod she’be Tiferet, which Rabbi Meir Gueta describes as a day of “Awe-Inspiring Gratitude.* 

And that is exactly what fills my heart today. As I remember the soldiers who gave their lives, and so many, too many grieving people they left behind, so I could live my life, raising a Jewish family in my beloved homeland, Israel. —

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