Yom Zikaron תשע”ד
Israel Remembrance Day
“You came here because your heart was tied to this nation and you bound up your life with that of all of Israel.”
Brig. Gen. Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Chief Rabbi of the IDF, speaking at a yahrtzeit ceremony for new immigrant lone soldier Michael Levine z”l, July 18, 2010
Those of us who live in Israel are accustomed to memorial days and ceremonies but we can never accept that tragedies are a part of life here, especially when faced with a personal loss.
Jewish life has the unique characteristic in that it is centered on the community. We are not simply individuals living our lives as well as possible, but we live our lives within a community, responsible for each other. In ancient times, the Kohen Gadol would pray in the Temple on Yom Kippur and ask for forgiveness for the entire nation. We do not celebrate our simchas alone, we need a minyan at weddings, brit milahs or for any full prayer service.
We are not expected to stand alone in our troubles. Nor do we mourn alone. When we comfort a mourner we say “may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” We share a common bond. One person’s happiness is everyone’s happiness. A single tragedy is a tragedy for the whole community.
As the Jewish people we share both history and destiny and nowhere is this shared destiny more evident than here in Israel. When the State of Israel was founded 66 years ago, it was to gather together all of Am Yisrael, not just for those living here.
So many of our people, in their prime, have given their lives to ensure the freedom and liberty of Israel. No part of our statehood was won without sacrifice. So many of our sons and daughters have fallen in defense of our country, our Land and our people.
Col. David (Mickey) Marcus helped build the Burma Road and was involved in the jeep convoy that broke the siege to Jerusalem during Israel’s War of Independence. A young woman in the Palmach was his jeep driver. She asked him, “You know you could get killed in a war like this. What made you come here?”
The American thrust out his wrist and said: ‘See these veins? The blood of Abraham flows through them. That’s what brought me here.”
That’s what brought him and a thousand other volunteers to the fight for independence, all sharing the blood of Abraham and Sarah.
On July 11, 1948, Marcus was fatally shot by an Israeli sentry, a new immigrant who had trouble recognizing the Hebrew password.
What was the password?
The road is ours.
Indeed, the road is now ours to shape. With humility, we can only offer you our gratefulness and our pledge to remember you always.
May their memories be for a blessing.
Prof. Rivka Lazovsky
World WIZO Executive