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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Israel Independence Day’

A Soldier’s Account of Grief to Happiness

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Every year the moment comes when sadness and happiness have a strange meeting. I ask: Have I mourned enough for those who have sacrificed their lives? What is the width of the line that separates Israel’s Memorial Day and the Jewish State’s Independence Day?

In Israel, two special days take place one after the other – the very second that Memorial Day comes to an end, Israel Independence Day begins. It often feels as though there isn’t enough time to feel the sadness of Israel’s Memorial day–Yom Hazikaron, yet the celebrations of Independence day have already begun. Sometimes there is a inner-conflict in which the feelings of sadness have already faded and there is a restless wait until the celebrations begin.

This year, I experience this transition as a soldier for the first time. I joined the army just a few months ago, and am still trying to figure out how to carry the huge responsibility of protecting my family and country. Today, two contrasting moments come together and for me, raise many questions.

Why would someone make the decision to put these days together? I think that maybe it’s because it is the only way to really recognize why Israel is so precious to the Jewish people. The two days complete each other–the happiness rising from the grief.

Many times in life, you can only reach the top after you’ve been in the lowest place. My mother said to me once, “You can only become a complete person once you’ve had your heart broken in two.” That’s exactly the contrast I’m talking about–the juxtaposition of pain and joy – when remembrance becomes happiness. These days can only come together.

Grief and Independence

Now that I am part of IDF, I feel even stronger my personal connection to those fallen soldiers. They were mostly young soldiers just like I am and that realization is quieting. In their death, these soldiers pass on the heritage of loyalty and pride in the values of the IDF. I owe my life to them. We all do. These soldiers have motivated me to build a better future for Israel.

And here I am. With pride I bear my heritage. Now I’m the soldier who is defending Israel. I’m one of those who look after my nation. Now it is me who carries the responsibility on my own shoulders.

Grief and Independence

Israel Independence Day for me is pride in living. Here is the only place in the world where being a Jew is normal. We are living by our own rules, under our own principles and beliefs, not dependent on anyone else–that’s what it means to be independent. If those soldiers hadn’t fought and died with bravery, the present would be completely different. We wouldn’t have a reason to celebrate the great gift that they’ve given us. A dream of 2000 years that the Jewish people hoped would come true. This is the gift of Israel’s fallen soldiers, and this is why on Israel Independence Day–we celebrate!

IDF’s Arizona Girl Receives ‘President’s Excellence Award’

Friday, April 19th, 2013

President Shimon Peres last week presented the annual President’s Citation of Excellence to a native of Arizona, 24-year-old lone soldier 2nd Lt. Nira Lee.

She grew up in Tempe, Arizona, in a Zionist household, but she had no intention of making aliyah. Her first trip to Israel was in 2004, when at age 16 she attended a group discovery trip with the B’nei B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO). “At that time, I did not feel a special connection to Israel nor a personal obligation to be here,” 2nd Lt. Lee explained.

On her second trip to Israel, during her first year in university, everything changed. She volunteered on a trip with Hillel to live in Akko and rebuild a school that had been destroyed in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. According to 2nd Lt. Lee, “being in the periphery and not necessarily touring the popular sites of Israel helped show me the different side of Israel. It showed me the people who needed help, and that was the first time I personally felt connected to this country.”

After that experience, 2nd Lt. Lee decided to support Israel from the inside. At the time, she was studying International Relations at AmericanUniversity in WashingtonD.C., and decided to do a test run by studying abroad in Haifa during her third year. “I chose Haifa because I understood it to be a much more authentic environment, one that seems closest to normal life in Israel,” she said.

The test run proved difficult for 2nd Lt. Lee. She knew no Hebrew. She was also overweight and in poor physical health. “I decided that if I wanted to help Israel, I would have to make a few personal changes first,” she said.

In 2008, 2nd Lt. Lee was in Israel when the security situation in Gaza deteriorated and Operation Cast Lead was initiated. The IDF called up reserves, many of whom were friends of 2nd Lt. Lee’s. “Being there during Operation Cast Lead and feeling so futile made me want to enlist in the IDF. Seeing my friends being called up while I remained in the comfort of my dorm room made me want to join them.”

Second Lt. Lee decided there and then that the next time Israel’s citizens would be called to defend the state, she would be among them. Following her year abroad, Nira learned to speak Hebrew fluently and, through personal determination and strength, lost 55 pounds on her path to physical health.

She made aliyah in May 2010 and enlisted as a lone soldier in the IDF five months later. At first, the transition was difficult. “No one knows the difficulties of being a lone soldier,” she said, adding that finding a place to live and setting up her life were great challenges.

Her commanders noticed that she was struggling and made great efforts to help her. “My commanders made it possible for me to have normal soldier concerns, rather than concerns such as where I would sleep that night or if I would have food to put on my plate. Instead of worrying about a place to do my laundry, and ending up washing my clothes in the shower at the base, I was able to focus on the reason I was there: my job in the army,” she said.

She completed the IDF Officers Course in 2011 and became the deputy liaison officer to the international community in the Gaza Strip. She is currently responsible for assisting in foreign access and the transfer of medical supplies into Gaza.

This week, 2nd Lt. Lee will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. She has been in the IDF for almost three years and is signed on for another six months. After completing her military service, she plans to earn a master’s degree in security and diplomacy at TelAvivUniversity.

After she received the President’s Citation of Excellence on Israel’s 65th Independence Day, she said, “It’s a huge honor for me to receive this award. Being a new immigrant, there are certainly times you feel you do not fit in, but the army is the epitome of how this country unites people.”

Israeli College Launches Daniel Pearl School of Journalism

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya launched the Daniel Pearl International Journalism Institute on Wednesday, named for The Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan 11 years ago.

His murderers posted a video of Pearl, before they beheaded him, in which he stated, “I am Jewish.”

Pearl’s father, Prof. Judea Pearl, said he hoped the institute would be a “towering contribution to Danny’s legacy, his life, his mission and his dreams.”

Prof. Pearl this week lit one of the torches in the annual ceremony at the end of Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and the beginning of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Yemenite Chabadnik Paints Gigantic Flag Seen from Jordan (Video)

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Jordanians across from Eilat have a new view of Israel today, hours before the beginning of Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, thanks to the work of Yemenite Chabadnik Roni Pilo who has painted a gigantic flag on an Eilat Navy hangar that covers almost an entire acre.

The display of the flag can be seen clearly from the Jordanian shore and cities across from the Gulf.

Pilo worked for three weeks, day and night, to finish the work in time for Memorial Day on Monday night and Tuesday, followed by Yom Ha’atzmaut.

The idea was the brainchild of Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzchak HaLevi, and work was carried out with the help of contributions from the French Jewish community and Tambour Paint Company, which donated 740 gallons of paint.

Pilo used special techniques to utilize light and shade and mixed six different shades of blue and six hues of white to make the flag display appear as if it is 3-D and moving on the hangar at the Israeli Navy base.

Mayor HaLevi said he came up with the idea to improve the aesthetics of the huge hangar.

He said there was no intention to irritate anyone, especially the Arabs across the waters. “We are not here to annoy anyone,” he said in a statement quoted by the Yediot Acharonot newspaper.

“Wherever the flag can be seen, that is all the better,” he added. “We have no reason to apologize for that. Displaying the flag permanently in Eilat, an international tourist and sports city that hosts 3 million people a year from Israel and the entire world, demonstrates our national pride and love for the country.

Navy base commander Ilan Mintz said, “There is nothing more symbolic the day before Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers…than a strong and loving embrace.”

The base will be open to visitors on Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Daniel Pearl’s Father to Light Day Memorial Flame

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

The father of the late Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl will light one the memorial flames at the Memorial Day Ceremony in Jerusalem, the day before Independence Day.

Pearl was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Pakistan while researching a story on Islamic radicals for The Wall Street Journal.

Nine days after his abduction, Pearl was cruelly beheaded. In a video which released his killers, Pearl was filmed stating, “My name is Daniel Pearl. I’m a Jewish American… My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I’m Jewish”

His father, Prof. Judea Pearl will light the memorial flame at the ceremony that honors the memory of Jews killed in terror attacks and anti-Semitic incidents across the globe, in addition to Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks in Israel.

Daniel Pearl’s wife Marianne, and his son Adam, who was born several months after his father’s murder, also will be present.

Defying Boycotts, Jagger, Stones, to Honor Israel’s 65th Birthday

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Despite a barrage of attacks from British, European and U.S. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) groups, the Rolling Stones will perform their planned concert in Jerusalem on Israel’s Independence Day, Monday, April 15.

“We’ve been slammed and smacked and twittered a lot by the anti-Israeli side,” said Mick Jagger, the band’s leader and most recognizable member since 1963. “All I can say is: anything worth doing is worth overdoing. So we decided to add a concert on Tuesday.”

Needless to say, tickets to both concerts, Monday night in Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem and Tuesday night in Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv, have been sold out even as Jagger was speaking.

“This is a huge mistake for the Stones,” declared BDS proponent Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb. “They stand to lose a lot of money as a result of showing solidarity with Zionism, because their most devoted fans also support boycotting Israel.”

“I don’t really count myself as a very sophisticated businessperson,” Jagger responded when asked if the Israel concerts are a bad move business wise. “I’m a creative artist. All I know from business I’ve picked up along the way.”

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood will all arrive in Jerusalem on Thursday, ahead of their opening concert, to meet President Shimon Peres who says he’s been a stoner for ages.

“When ‘Get Off of My Cloud’ came out, Dayan brought me the single from London,” Peres told Haaretz. “We played it for hours in the office until Paula Ben Gurion threatened to throw us out.”

David Ben Gurion’s wife, Paula, was a Kinks fan.

This has been a Purim prank…

In a Bizarro World, Ultra Orthodox Cult Keeps Anti-Independence Day

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

In the neighborhood of Meah She’arim, stronghold of the vehemently anti-Zionist sect of Neturei Karta, Israel’s Independence Day is traditionally kept as the inverse of the country’s national celebrations.

Many ads of all sizes have been posted around the neighborhood in recent days, in preparation for the anti-holiday. Nearly all of them are calling for prayer vigils and fasting on “The day the State of Israel and Zionism came into being.”

The website BeHadrei Haredim cites an ad signed by Neturei Karta, that says: “It has been sixty-four years of extreme taunts and reviling. Every day they taunt and revile at the heavens, crying ‘Who is there for me in Heaven.’ Even today, their desire is burning in their heart as they’re about to celebrate their day of independence, and raise their national flag to commemorate their festival, to immortalize their Zionist idol.”

The organizers are planning public mourning events on Thursday, in 18 synagogues across the country and around the world, in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak, Monsey, and Williamsburg.

The Jerusalem procession will meet at Mea Shearim square, and then march through the streets of the city “clad in sackcloth.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/in-a-bizarro-world-ultra-orthodox-cult-keeps-anti-independence-day/2012/04/26/

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