Between Memorial Day and Independence Celebrations

Israel is a nation of stark contrasts, and nothing demonstrates that more than the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day

Israeli soldiers place Israeli flags on the graves of fallen soldiers in Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, on May 6, 2019. The ceremony of laying Israeli flags on each fallen soldier's grave, is being held every year just few days before the Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ????? ??????? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ???? ??????? ??? ??????? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ???????? Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90

Yet another topsy-turvy week in Israel. One moment our heads were down racing to a shelter, the next we are looking up to the sky and seeing no more missiles. Now we’re get ready for tomorrow’s Independence Day celebrations. 

We barely concluded remembering our Holocaust and now tonight begins Memorial Day to honor our fallen soldiers. On Wednesday, our cemeteries will be packed with mourning crowds and in the evening those same crowds will fill our city streets and squares with dancing and song to celebrate our independence and return to our homeland. 

One more grave story for our people, one more brave story to remember. This is the bittersweet of our life in Israel. Like the fireworks that will light up the skies on our Independence Day, the celebrations will be just a temporary spark to shine some light on the pain of the price we pay to live in this land.

These contrasting poles of opposites is the story of Israel. Here we live with Left and Right, secular and religious, the mundane and the holy, conservative yet tolerant. Our very existence as a state is filled with contrast. 

We have become a military and technological superpower, yet we battle daily with the boycotts and condemnations of a world that wants to limit our power and influence. We are the country that traveled 4 million miles to get to the moon and then crashed just a few yards before landing. 

It took us 2,000 year to get back to our homeland, but even here we don’t have a moment’s quiet. We gave the world the Word of G-d’s love for mankind, and we are a people hated by humanity. 

Our forefathers understood this dilemma thousands of years ago when they taught us that in the beginning the response to the chaos that was over the surface of the deep G-d spoke and light came into being (Gen 1:2). It was their faith in G-d that gave them strength to keep walking through the valleys and shadows of death toward the hope of greener pastures and quieted waters. 

In the final analysis, only when we are willing to turn our hearts to the creator of Israel will we find the golden streets that will lead us on the path to our eternal home and our true Shalom. 

We are a nation taught to love our neighbor as ourselves, and so we will feel both the pain and suffering of every Israeli and every family, and we will rejoice at our every and any unfathomable accomplishment no matter how great or small.

Happy Independence Day Israel. May you be comforted in your hope.

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