This evening will begin Yom Hazikaron, a day we honor the fallen soldiers of Israel.
To allow us all to understand the importance of this day, we share with you the words of Ryan Greiss, originally from Cresskill, NJ. and a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces’ Golani Brigade. I was honored to perform Ryan’s Bar Mitzvah many years ago and his family were members of our Chavurah for many many years. Thank you Ryan for allowing your moving words to be shared with our Chavurah.
- A lot of Americans think of Yom HaZikaron as Israel’s Memorial Day, but it’s really so much more than that.
How many of you are soldiers?
How many of your children have you worried would fall on the field of battle?
How many people do you know who have served in the military?
Could you count them on one hand? In Israel, everybody serves. In Israel, everybody has lost friends and family to acts of war or terror. So in Israel, Yom HaZikaron isn’t just a state holiday; it’s a national day of mourning.
It’s a metaphorical yahrzeit that every single person commemorates together, all at once. When the sirens sound, one at 8 p.m., Tuesday night and the other at 11 a.m.,Wednesday morning, the entire country will literally stand still:
Cars on the highways will grind to a halt and remember all the people who laid down their lives so that they could live free in the Jewish state.
When the siren sounds:
I remember Max Steinberg, usually over a glass of bourbon. Originally from Los Angeles, Max struggled to learn Hebrew but was strong as an ox and never stopped smiling until he was blown up in an armored personnel carrier during Israel’s 2014 war with Gaza.
I remember Oron Shaul, another soldier from Golani’s 13th Battalion, who was riding with Max and whose body is still being held for ransom by Hamas.
I grieve with my friend Shai Amichai, whose little brother took his own life with his service weapon, and with Mikhael Precel, who’d just walked out of the Sbarro in Jerusalem when it exploded, killing 15 people — including his friend — and wounding 130 — including Mikhael. He was only 16 years old.
After a day full of grief, in a uniquely Israeli way, Yom HaZikaron flows right into Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
It’s a doubleheader: Memorial Day and July 4th, one after the other.
We remember the price and then we celebrate the rewards.
This Yom HaZikaron I ask you to remember my friends and all the heroes who paid the ultimate price to preserve the only Jewish state, and I wish you a very happy Yom Ha’atzmaut. –
Thank you Ryan
Rabbi Nat Benjamin
Chavurah Beth Shalom