By Timna Mekaiten, Federation Community Shlicha
April is such a busy month, filled with important and emotional days.
We start with Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – which for me is a day about my grandfather and his story. He was able to survive the most horrific experiences a man could go through, make his way to Italy, and try (together with many) to enter Israel by sea but was sent to Cyprus to wait.
And when he did make aliyah – when he stepped foot in Israel – he felt like a new person. He never again yelled at his kids, he smiled whenever he could…and I just wish I had the chance to meet him. MY GRANDFATHER, MY HERO.
A week after Yom Hashoah, all of Israel will again be enveloped in sadness. It’s Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) in memory of our lost soldiers and victims of terror.
Yom HaZikaron is Israel is a day of mourning. Shops close on the eve of, and stay closed until the day is over. It’s a national day, a national burden on all of our backs. We remember with so much pain and we hurt in our hearts for every single life that was lost.
On that bus that changed my sister’s life in 2002, 11 people were killed by a suicide bomber. Those who lost their lives are remembered on Yom HaZikaron and their names make me shiver when I hear them. You can learn a little bit about them here. Please read. Please help me remember.
When the night comes and Memorial Day is over, Israel’s Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut) begins! We celebrate our beloved country’s birthday and we party! It’s a day of pride and joy and we remember how much we’ve gone through as a nation to get where we are. We have a state and we are proud of it!
Some people find it hard to understand how we can mourn lives lost and then celebrate statehood, one right after the other. It’s hard, no doubt. But the way I see it, the reason we have a state is because of our soldiers – those who gave their lives for the country they loved. It’s a simple equation: without one, we wouldn’t have the other.
I can tell you personally that the sadness I feel on Yom HaZikaron is like a bullet to the heart…a hole in the chest. Without the celebration of Israel the next day I would be agonizing for far longer than just one day.
When Independence Day evening arrives we say one last THANK YOU to our beloved who have left us and we lay them to rest once more, as we move from the pain that swims in our hearts to a joy that covers our bones and drowns the sorrow. Israel is a nation of paradoxes and confusion. We are a nation that is built on years of suffering and years of success. And we are one big mishpacha (family)!
Holocaust Remembrance Day is April 16. Please stop your day to remember, for just a moment, what happened to us not so long ago.
Israel’s Memorial Day will start on April 21 and will finish on April 22, when Israeli Independence Day begins.
I would like to ask you all to join me on April 22 at 7:00 PM, to commemorate our losses and celebrate Israel’s life in a community-wide Memorial/Independence event. We will start with a ceremony that will be followed by Israeli food, music and fun. The entire night is child-appropriate and will be held at the Rockland Jewish Community Campus in West Nyack. This event means the world to me and I would love it if you would help me bring it to the CommUNITY. Learn more/register here.
If you see me on the 21st of April and I appear withdrawn, know that I’m just busy trying to remember and to not forget; trying to show my gratitude to the souls beyond our world who gave me the life I know.
With the busy month ahead, all I can hope is that you got some good sleep during Pesach and are ready for what’s to come.
Love to all,