Israel@60 Mission: Yom HaZikaron

Larry Marks, one of the members of the federation's Israel@60 mission, said it best: "I never knew how big the number 33 is," He was referring to the number of I.D.F. personnel from Kiryat Shimona killed in Israel's wars. We all found out just how big a number at a moving Yom HaZikaron memorial service held on a hillside military cemetery. We bussed to the top of the hill in the fast darkening twilight. It was a beautiful breezy evening, cold but somehow made warmer by the solemn presence of the townspeople, who came to remember. When you walk into the cemetery, you come across the site of a horrendous Katyusha attack from the 2006 Lebanon War. Somehow, the rocket made a direct hit on a unit of reserve soldiers. Twelve died that day, a shockingly high number. To see that lovely setting and to ponder what happened there is to face an awful incongruity. But the photos of the soldiers' faces, placed at the site, bring it swiftly home. We stood on a small plaza, mixing with Israelis. There was plenty of low chatter, punctuated by the wrenching squeal of far-off peacocks. And suddenly, the siren. For a minute sirens wailed, as they did all over Israel. Somehow it reminded me of a shofar blast, long and loud and terrible. Then the ceremony began. After a few short somber remarks and a song, 33 children, dressed in white and clutching torches, walked onto the riser. They stood shoulder to shoulder, their flames starkly bright against the blue-black sky. And, as the names of the dead were read one at a time, so, too, did the children light with their torches and even larger flame. It took a long time to read the names. Then a woman spoke. She and one sister had come to Israel with their older sister Miriam right after the Holocaust, in which their parents died. Miriam wasa nurse, in charge of taking care of the babies in a local hospital. In the 1948 War of Independence, though warned to stay off the streets, Miriam was headed for the hospital when a Syrian jet bombed the area. She was killed. Her sisters lived -- orphaned twice, she said . But one of the babies in the hospital was named Miriam in her honor. That baby, now grown, stood side by side with Miriam's sister on this night. Then we sang HaTikva before dispersing in the dark.

Categories: Israel


May 07, 2008


The Federation