In Israel many towns, villages, cities, kibbutzim and moshavim are named after people. That includes quite a number of yishuvim in Judea and Samaria, such as Givat Assaf, established in memory of Assaf Hershkowitz of Ofra murdered as he passed there, the junction to Beit El where school girls stood yesterday waving Israeli flags to the passing cars, Jewish, Arab and all those "diplomatic plates" on their way.

Yesterday I caught a tremp (hitchhiked) from the Sha'ar Binyamin to Ofra with a young woman. We began to talk, and she told me that she lives in Givat Harel. I asked her how many families now live there; sixty 60 was her reply. I was obviously impressed at its growth. "You probably remember when there were only ten families" she said. "I remember Harel" I replied. Yes, for me they are people, these communities and towns.

I taught Assaf's brother, know Harel's family well, and Rachalla Druk, for which Shvut Rachel and Rechallim were named, was a very good friend. When I look at these places, the homes, gardens, children and public institutions I feel a sadness and also a wonder. I wonder if the precious people whom they are named for are observing and guarding them from their status in Olam Haba, the Next World. And for many years I've felt that if only we had established these communities sooner, then the victims would not have been killed.

This is because the communities in the locations where they now are would never have had been established there if we hadn't been looking for a way to memorialize their lives and values. The other night as I walked around our traditional display of victims of Arab terror connected to Shiloh, whether residents or family members of those who live here, again, like every year I felt that it had become harder for me than the year before. It just hurts more.

I look at the pictures of those I knew and whose families I know and the pain is endless, reverberating as I see those optimistic faces. I see their siblings, parents and grandparents. I see the grandchildren, nieces and nephews they never knew. I see those named after them who will G-d willing be granted long, healthy and successful lives. Recently friends wrote a moving letter that they took their grandson, the first-born grandson of an IDF solder, a friend of ours, who had been killed in action, to enter the IDF.

I tried to find the right response as I fought back tears. "May he merit to bring his grandchildren to join the army, just like you are doing." We in Israel know very well that our independence did not come easily nor cheaply, and the struggle hasn't ended.

I fully approve and agree with the custom of having Israeli Independence Day follow immediately after Memorial Day. יהי זכרם ברוך Yihi Zichrom Baruch May Their Memories be Blessed Thank G-d, the doomsday predictions which have followed the State of Israel even before David Ben-Gurion made the official Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, have been proven wrong.

The State of Israel may not be perfect, as if there is a country someplace that really is, but it's alive, vibrant, successful, financially stable, the source of innovative technology, medicine and more. Here we are celebrating sixty-seven 67 years of independence, having survived wars and threats, we are one of the most open and democratic countries in the world. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

I have been living in Israel since 1970, when my husband and I, newlyweds at the time, docked at Haifa Port on the Queen Anna Maria-Greek Lines, along with about four hundred 400 other olim chadashim, new immigrants. We have been living in Shiloh since 1981.

I have seen an enormous amount of changes here in Israel. In 1970, Israelis lived under very difficult conditions compared to the United States, and today Israel is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Considering that we rather frequently are forced to fight wars for our very existence, survival and security, it's amazing--yes, definitely a sign that G-d is helping us-- that we not only exist, but we have thrived and outpaced most countries in the world.

Chag Atzma'ut Sameach!! Have a Wonderful Israeli Independence Day!!

This post is based on two I wrote on my personal blog Shiloh Musings, where you can see the accompanying photos and videos. The State of Israel, Celebrating 67 Years, 5775, 2015, and Israeli Soldiers and Terror Victims Memorial Day- People Not Places, I highly suggest you look there, too, thanks.
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