Wednesday, May 11, 2011

War & Peace: the short illustrated version

Yom revi'i, 7 Iyar 5771.

Romi Sussman took this photo of us.  Thanks, Romi and Josh!
The Dearly Beloved and Yeshiva Bochur were bonding over beer and barbecue on Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israel's celebration of her sixty-third year as a modern State.

During the discussion of such important topics as poisoned fish, Johnny Cash, and the importance of being a poor black man to making great music (I kid you not), they decided that the reason Memorial Day in America has become marginalized is all about timing.

Memorial Day evolved from a day to honor the Civil War dead in early May to part of a long weekend at the end of May for shopping and trips to the beach.  While there are still patriotic stalwarts who visit graves of American war dead, the number of citizens who truly appreciate the power of the day is dwindling.

My guys surmised that if Memorial Day were observed on July 3, more people would continue to recognize how significant was the sacrifice of young American lives to the building and maintenance of the United States.

They came to this realization as they discussed the emotional juxtaposition of Yom HaZikaron (Israel's national Day of Remembrance of our fallen heroes and martyrs) with Yom Ha'atzma'ut (modern Israel's Independence Day).  It is impossible not to appreciate those 22,867 service men and women who gave their lives that we may celebrate our freedom after the sun goes down on the day marking their sacrifice.

On our way to visit the military cemetery at Har Hertzl, we stop with everyone else at the sounding of the siren, signalling a national moment of silent contemplation.

Beautifully maintained, the military cemetery at Har Hertzl witnesses thousands of visitors of all backgrounds coming to pay their respects to our fallen soldiers.

We are painfully aware that these losses are not remote and isolated.  Everyone has lost someone, or knows someone who has lost someone, in the defense of our tiny country.

Everywhere we walked, classes and talks were being given to the youth about the importance of this day.

Flowers were in abundance.  Some graves even looked like gardens.  A few graves were still marked in the more traditional Jewish manner with stones left by visitors.

We were overcome by the sight of this woman, tenderly brushing dust from the surface of the grave stone, as one might brush crumbs or tears from a beloved child's face.

There were many beautiful memorials.  Note the Magen David cut into the stone above.

Our Tehillim seemed so important here, as we did our small part to participate in the process of holding our precious Land.
"I will praise you, O L-rd.  Although You were angry with me, Your anger has turned away and You have comforted me." ~ from the Haftara read after the morning service in Israel on Yom Ha'atzma'ut

Family time in Israel.  What a great way to celebrate the privilege of living here!

Neve Daniel is very good at displaying national pride.

There are 3.5 mangalim (small barbecue grills) per capita in Neve Daniel, and they are all being fired up today.  (I made that figure up.  The number is probably much higher, and doesn't include fancy-shmancy "American" grills.)

There is no better town for crashing parties.

See?  The natives actually greet you with a smile, and offers of food.

This sturdy shirt is 38 years old.  His dad wore it.  May the sturdy fellow wearing it put it on his great grandkid someday, and tell its history at his own Yom Ha'atzma'ut barbecue.

The work of local artists is proudly on display, honoring modern Israel's 63rd year of existence.

What is Independence Day without football?

The mark of a good boy is not that he doesn't knock the door off the utility box during  the game.  The mark of a good boy is that he stops the game to replace the door.  Good on ya!

The Dearly Beloved and I get in a few games of catch while we walk the Land.

Taking patriotism to heart (and head): Yaelle reminded us of a WWII army nurse with this lovely mitpachat.

There were many moments with good friends.

"Swifter than eagles, stronger than lions, they fought for the liberation of their people and homeland, sacrificing their lives for Israel's rebirth in its holy land." ~ from the Memorial Prayer for Fallen Israeli Soldiers

May their sacrifice never be for nothing.
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