web analytics
August 3, 2015 / 18 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


A Day of Agony

Memorial Day in Israel is not a day of picnics and sales or barbecues and fun. It is agony. It is pain.
Israelis stand still on the Ayalon Highway as a siren is sounded across the country to mark Memorial Day.

Israelis stand still on the Ayalon Highway as a siren is sounded across the country to mark Memorial Day.
Photo Credit: Roni Schutzer /Flash90

I went last night, as I do almost every year, to our local ceremony remembering Israel’s fallen. I’ve lived in this city going on 12 years. Where at first I knew none of the names, there are now three that I recognize, families that I know.

Each year, I am grateful that there aren’t more; desperately, almost embarrassing grateful not to be sitting up in the front.

“Who is sitting there?” Shmulik asked me last night. He’s been to these ceremonies before, but never paid attention. That is where the mayor sits, his assistants and deputies. The chief rabbis of our city and others. But most significantly, this is where the bereaved families sit. They are separated by a low barrier so they won’t be bothered, so they can grieve a bit in private, as they sit among thousands who have come to honor them and the sons and daughters they have lost.

The ceremony begins just moments before 8:00 p.m. It is windy and cool this year; sometimes it is unbearably hot. The park, where tonight there will be singing and dancing and fireworks, was packed last night for the Memorial Day ceremony. It is a unique and amazing yearly event – to cry with all your heart one day and then smile and dance and be happy the next.

We sit there knowing we will dance tomorrow night, knowing these families will not.

Young teenagers walk onto the stage, each carrying large Israeli flags. They are divided into two lines, each moving to the side of the stage where they will remain throughout the ceremony. A man comes to the front; I don’t know his name but he has a beautiful, deep voice – he will lead the ceremony, introduce each of the speakers and singers.

He tells us in a moment, the siren will sound and asks us to stand. He asks the parents to watch over the children so that they don’t make noise and for other adults to watch if children here without parents are overly noisy. Then there is silence. Thousands are waiting for the siren. We wait …

It begins with a quiet wail, gaining and reaching the top. Unlike the real air raid siren, the sound does not go up and down – it is an endless cry that reaches into your heart and fills your eyes. They burn and you try to blink them away. I stand beside one son; another is at home with his wife. What right do I have to cry? God has blessed me – my sons are alive and safe.

The siren ends – not abruptly, but as it began, a slow decline to silence. The flag is lowered and we are asked to sit down again.

More teenagers come forward – there are four this time. The two in the middle begin a slow recitation of the names of those we have lost from our city – there are so many, too many. The father of the last to fall is asked to say the mourners prayer and the audience stands again and answers “Amen” at the appropriate times.

The mayor speaks; others as well. Songs – horribly sad songs of love of land and family, of country of life are sung. Your heart breaks and you want it to end. You want to go home and never come to another ceremony, knowing you will be there again next year, and the year after, and after that.

In all the years I have been in Israel, I have missed very few. Perhaps when my children were very young, or I was pregnant and sitting on a hard floor for an hour was torture. I know when Elie was in the army, I couldn’t go. I couldn’t sit there and listen and think. I was ashamed of my cowardice and begged the families to forgive me.

The first time I went was in Elie’s last year in the army – when he went with me. That, somehow, I managed to do. Last night, I sat next to Shmulik and as with Elie, his being there gave me comfort.

Memorial Day in Israel is as it should be – it is not a day of picnics and sales. It is not about barbecues and fun. It is agony; it is pain. It is tears and sad songs on the radio. It is a candle burning in my house in their memory, and it is the constant knowledge that without their sacrifice, we would not sing and dance tonight. We would not be free, here in our land.

May God bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and forever keep them in His heart, as they are in ours.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

About the Author: Visit Paula Stern's blog, A Soldier's Mother.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “A Day of Agony”

  1. Grace Acosta says:

    Beautifully written, this made me cry too. What right to you have to cry, or me? Every right, because every son and daughter is one of ours, we are family. It is only logical that we share each other's pain, and hopefully lighten the burden for those who grieve the most.

    G-d bless the IDF and their families, may we all merit to see the end of tears – and the coming of Moshiach NOW!

  2. Grace Acosta says:

    Beautifully written, this made me cry too. What right to you have to cry, or me? Every right, because every son and daughter is one of ours, we are family. It is only logical that we share each other's pain, and hopefully lighten the burden for those who grieve the most.

    G-d bless the IDF and their families, may we all merit to see the end of tears – and the coming of Moshiach NOW!

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
US Senator Chuck Schumer
Report: Schumer Will Join Republicans and Kill Iran Deal
Latest Blogs Stories
Bloodstained car after Palestinian Authority terrorists shot at settlers

Compare the numbers. Disproportionately too many Arab attacks on Jews have been happening.

Doug Goldstein

What is the impact of renouncing US citizenship if you live abroad? Can you visit the US again?

Flag of Norway

Gentile friends of Israel came from all over Norway & Europe and they sang “Hatikva” in Norwegian!

Anti-violence protest in Tel Aviv

As the incitement begins again against the settlers, the religious and the Right, let’s review the list of children killed by terrorists.

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

In all the years (and this week it’s exactly 14 years) since our daughter was murdered, we have not found a single Arabic-language post, article, tweet or speech condemning that attack in the center of Jerusalem or the killings.

Everyone is angry at the ongoing Arab terrorism, but what does murdering a baby have to do with protecting Jewish lives or furthering Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel?

Tonight, live Meerkat interactive video tour and talk in Jerusalem.

The US doesn’t want Pollard & he doesn’t want America- release him with 1 condition: No return to US

Meet Republican US presidential candidate Kerry Bowers & listen to his message to the Israeli public

Amongst the Palestinians (sic) what is promoted and praised for its young people? Terror & martyrdom

“If you can’t negotiate with your enemy, why negotiate at all?” Great sound bite. The press loved it

The phenomenon pushing limits of Orthodoxy to the extreme left has no chance of becoming mainstream

Discussing, what should you do if you are feeling overstressed in your job and are tempted to quit?

Considering Esther Pollard’s group mismanaged his case, Pollard’s chances of parole are slim

Detention Camps for US Jews? Sounds farfetched but it did to Japanese-Americans during WW II as well

More Articles from Paula R. Stern
The CNN Center in Atlanta.

Dear CNN: When hypocrisy rules a media outlet, its mandate to call what they do “journalism” expires

A Soldier's Mother

Dear Muslims, Happy Ramadan. It’s clear from the news that your people are having a “bang-up” month

If your nation does wrong, isn’t it your responsibility to accept responsibility to counter evil?

The story likely to be reported will assign all the blame to Israel and none to the Palestinians.

Sadna’s programs for young people with special needs helps them become more than believed possible

To friends in America: Wishing someone “Happy Memorial Day” means you don’t understand the holiday.

For the record, the grand total of Jewish grandmothers in Israel that have blown up ANYTHING: ZERO!

A minute and a half? What if the kids are upstairs with earphones on and they don’t hear the siren?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/a-day-of-agony/2013/04/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: