We just celebrated the two-day holiday of Yom Ha’Zikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day for Heroes and Fallen Soldiers) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day). This year is the 73rd anniversary of the modern-day State of Israel.
At 8 pm on April 13th, a siren was sounded across Israel to honor those lost. Candles were lit and tears fell. On April 14th, the Navy dressed in bright white, the Air Force in proud beige and the Army in its green dress uniforms. Memorial services were held in every city, as we all stood together arm in arm.
But then in complete role reversal: that same evening falafels, Israeli salad, ice cream and a whole array was brought out to the patio with family and neighbors gathered, the sound of fireworks, and cities flooded together to watch and unite.
Israelis truly have something to celebrate. The modern-day State of Israel was established by the courageous pioneers, those men and women who built from scratch, in the raw dirt, fighting at the same time that they were building . . . families who emigrated from all over the earth with a strong pull to return to the Land of their forefathers.
Today, as throughout all of its history, Israelis continue to face astonishing hostility from neighboring nations and beyond—vicious acts of violent terrorism on Israel’s streets, Hamas building tunnels under Israel’s land and Gaza sea threat, the threat of nuclear attack by Iran, Hezbollah stocked with bombs along the northern border and not to mention the Russia-Syrian equation next door to the Golan Heights.
Of course, one-third of Israelis don’t celebrate like the other two-thirds. One-third of the nation of Israel today lives in poverty . . . immigrants, who found hunger and homelessness when they got to Israel, in need of clothing, furniture, the very basics. Their celebratory meal was quite modest to meager at best, such as a meal of pita and humus. And yet they are still happy to be in Israel as their new home. Uniting in the work of Israel Relief Aid enables us to receive the reward of having helped this one-third, of having strengthened the nation of Israel . . . having brought joy, comfort, and hope to needy Israelis.