According to stats released by the Israeli Defense Department:
23,447 have been killed in war and battles,
68 have been killed during the last year
59 wounded in past years died of their wounds
At present there are 16,307 bereaved families
Of them 9,442 are bereaved parents
4,917 are widows
1,948 are orphans (to age 30)
2,756 have been killed in terror attacks
31 have been killed during the last year
379 have been wounded during the last year
Resulting in 3,011 orphans
Of them 107 orphaned of both parents
975 bereaved widows and widowers
972 bereaved parents
The days and weeks after Passover aren't easy. First, Holocaust memorial day, and then Israel's memorial day, leading into Independence day.
None of them are easy.
OK. The first two are understandably difficult. Six or seven million are numbers incompressible. The personal stories that inevitably appear are too, impossible to fathom. Tales of heroes, of all ages, of both sexes, and of all religions, who risked and sometimes paid with their lives, to try and save others. Each story is a world unto itself, piercing rays of light in a world of darkness.
And then, a week later, Israeli Memorial Day. There isn't anyone who doesn't know someone – be it family, friends, neighbors, from childhood, work…. Everyone knows someone – and so the day, with the sirens blasting twice, at night and in the morning, the ceremonies at military cemeteries, the eulogies, the remembrances, are usually accompanied by tears and sadness.
But there's also pride in those who were willing to give their lives, allowing the creation and continuation of the State of Israel. But it's certainly not easy.
Memorial day blends into Independence day. The border between the two somewhat blurry; From melancholy to rejoice. From ashes to rebirth.
Yet this day, unfortunately, is also not easy.
One would expect that a state, 68 years old, existing amongst conditions unbelievable and indescribable in a science fiction story, would be proud of itself, of its achievements, of its very existence.
Yet we are witness to statements such as those of the deputy chief of staff, the former chief of staff, with the support of the defense minister and the current chief of staff, and others, daring to voice concern about the shadows of Nazi Germany hanging over the state of Israel. Officers and soldiers are berated for fulfilling their duty, labeled as unethical and immoral.
Israelis partake in organizations funded by Israel's enemies, whose primary goal is the eradication of the state of Israel. Yet they are allowed to run free and continue their traitorous behavior.
We find ourselves living by the rules of those appointed, dressed in black, whose visions are the very antithesis of Judaism, who rather than adjudicate, legislate, without authority. But, their word is law.
And the list goes on and on and on.
Is this the state we prayed for?
Yesterday, speaking with a friend, I said, 'when you have an infection, it is filled with pus, and cannot heal until that pus is drained from the body. I guess that's what's happening to us today. It's all seeping out.'
Anyone who has ever been a child knows that we go through periods of time when we drive our parents crazy – mad. It can begin at a few weeks old and continue for decades. But usually, in the end, it works out ok. It may take some time, but the final product is a gem.
So it is today. We are 68 going on 16. Going through that well-known 'identity crisis,' which tends to lead to wacky behavior.
As is said, Jews can be taken out of exile, but it is more difficult to take the exile out of the Jews. But in the end, all the exile will drain, leaving only the pure Jew-Israeli.
How do I know? First of all, it would be impossible for us to be here today without Divine Providence. Our very existence as a people, our being in our homeland, our development and prosperity, both spiritual and material, could not begin without the hand of our Creator. And He didn't bring us back to again to watch us fail. He too knows what children are like.
I know because, despite the issues, there is much much more that is good. Unfortunately the bad tends to get the headlines, causing depression and despair. But when we take a good look around us, we can see that the light very much outshines the darkness. You just have to really open your eyes.
I see the wonderful people, in Israel and throughout the world, Jew and non-Jew, who don't only appreciate Israel, rather love it, with all their lives and all their souls.
And I see our youth, despite it all, continuing to serve, continuing to risk their lives, for all of us.
And in the end, that says it than all the others combined.
So, as hard as it may seem to celebrate, celebrate we will, knowing that when the kid grows up, he'll transform into what we've all been watching and waiting for. A giant he will be!