web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yom Hazikaron’

From Joy to Sorrow and Back Again

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

I close my eyes and am transported back to Israel, where I spent the past six weeks.

For me, Israel always feels like home, and even six weeks is not enough time to do all I would like and to see family and old friends as often as I wish.

Pesach is a beautiful time in Israel. It’s springtime and everything is in bloom. During the weeks leading up to the holiday people are busy selling their chametz, kashering their pots and pans, etc. This year things were a little more complicated for us Jerusalemites as President Obama picked an inconvenient time to visit, necessitating the closing of main thoroughfares for hours on end. But finally the holiday arrived, bringing a feeling of joyous thanksgiving.

I was privileged to hear the Priestly blessing on the second day of Chol HaMoed at the Kotel and felt enveloped in holiness. I was delighted to see the signs on buses wishing all a Chag Pesach Sameach. But one of my best “Only in Israel” stories was told to me by my friend Tzviya.

Supermarkets all over Israel sell their chametz and cover over all the shelves that have chametz on them. My friend was in a supermarket on Chol HaMoed when a woman somehow reached behind the covering and took out a box of chametz. The cashier made several attempts to enter the item on her cash register, but each time the words “Chametz – Not For Sale” came up. Finally the cashier told the customer she was unable to sell this to her this week and to please put it back.

The holiday passed all too quickly and then wherever one looked, the beautiful blue and white flag of Israel could be seen blowing in the wind. The country was getting ready to celebrate 65 years of independence. I bought a flag and proudly hung it on my car window.

The most moving experience of all for me took place on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s memorial day for its fallen soldiers. It takes place a day before Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s independence day. For those of us who grew up and live in the U.S., memorial day in Israel is vastly different from what we are used to. It is sad and solemn; theaters are closed, as are many restaurants and stores. A siren sounds in the evening to usher in the day and again in the morning for two minutes of silence.

Aside from the public ceremonies, many people visit the cemeteries. Every year my son Dovid drives from his home in Ginot Shomron to the military cemetery on Har Herzl to visit the grave of his teacher Shlomo Aumann, Hy”d, who was killed defending Israel in the 1982 Lebanon war.

The year the war broke out Dovid was a young boy of 14, about to graduate 8th grade in the Chorev School. Shlomo Aumann , the eldest son of Nobel Laureate Professor Robert (Yisrael) Aumann, was the students’ favorite teacher. His death was a major blow to the entire class but Dovid took it particularly hard. He has never forgotten him and now, so many years later, he brings his children with him.

It is hard to describe the feeling one gets walking past thousands of graves of young men and women – 18, 19, 20 years old. We finally came to Shlomo’s grave. He was 25 when he was killed, leaving behind a two-year-old son and a pregnant wife ( a girl was born a few months after his death). Some family members were already there. Dovid spoke about his teacher and then my granddaughter Elisheva began to play her violin. There is something about the violin that touches the soul as no other instrument can. She played “V’Zakaynee L’Gadel Banim” and Shlomo’s sister told us her brother’s two children are a wonderful credit to his memory. At the sound of the violin, people visiting other graves came over sing with us.

From there we went to the section in memory of Chana Senesh, the heroine who rescued Jews in Europe during World War II before being caught and tortured to death. A group of schoolchildren and their teacher were there and when Elisheva played “Kayli Kayli,” one of the songs Chana Senesh wrote, the entire class sang along. Once again, at the sound of the violin people came from all over to stand alongside us.

Yishai Talks About His IDF Experience (2)

Friday, April 19th, 2013

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents a special Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day in Israel) talk that was given in Tenafly, NJ during his current tour. Yishai talks about his personal memories and experiences in the Israeli Defence Forces from the age of 18 when he enlisted as a paratrooper and was sent to Lebanon where he was injured until today as an active member in a battlefield reserves paratrooper unit. This is the second part of his talk. Don’t miss it!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Yishai Talks About His IDF Experience and Yom HaZikaron Part 1

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents a special Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day in Israel) talk that was given in Tenafly, NJ during his current tour. Yishai talks about his personal memories and experiences in the Israeli Defence Forces from the age of 18 when he enlisted as a paratrooper and was sent to Lebanon where he was injured until today as an active member in a battlefield reserves paratrooper unit. This is the first part of his talk. Listen in!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Memorial Day — To Live and Die for Israel

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

I wrote this memoir few years ago:

In March of 1995 my friends and I were drafted to the Israeli army. We had passed some grueling tests and were accepted to the Paratrooper brigades, the Tzanchanim. The image of the red berets liberating the Western Wall was fused into our psyches like it was in so many young Israeli minds, and more than anything we wanted to serve our country honorably and to the best of our abilities. Six painful months of basic training were ahead of us. In this period of time our minds and bodies were converted from civilian use and become the property of the IDF. We learned to push the envelope of our individual human capacity, and to harness the great strength inherent in an indivisible platoon.

We kept our sights to the final day of basic training in which we would hike 86 kilometers, in utter silence with full infantry gear, up to Givat Ha-Tachmoshet, Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem where many Tzanchanim had perished in the 6 Day War, and where we would receive our very own red berets and be inducted into the ranks of the paratroopers.

However, one fine day in May, barely three months after we began basic training, the sergeant major came into our barracks with a large box. We had no clue what its contents were. The sergeant major proceeded to open the box, and much to our surprise, unveiled red berets for each one of us in the platoon. “You don’t deserve to be paratroopers yet,” he told us. “But tomorrow you will leave the base and think of yourselves as full-fledged Tzanchanim for one day. You will not get to keep these,” he added, “but wear them with pride and respect.”

The next day was Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, and the whole of the paratrooper brigade, thousands of men, would be released for one day to attend one of the many commemorations of fallen soldiers that took place in the cemeteries of this tiny nation. Each one of us was given precise directions to the cemetery and a plot number was also given to us. We were told that the plot number corresponded to a grave of a fallen paratrooper. We were ordered to stand next to that grave and next to the family of a young man who was once just like ourselves, wearing our red beret as he once did, and in a sense, to represent his memory and soul.

That next day, I had luck hitchhiking, the preferred mode of travel when in uniform. Hitchhiking was by no means a precise science, and though I had tweaked my “I’m a helpless soldier” stance to perfection, some days were better than others. I reached the gates of the cemetery about an hour early and the place was quiet and serene. I loitered at the gate and then wandered in. The large space echoed silence and only the birds chirped in the large trees. Nature had overtaken this resting place and many of the walls were covered in ivy. I tried listening to the graves and heard no cries of pain, no last words, and no fear of death. The dead, it seemed to me, had made peace with their fate, they were no longer bitter at having fallen so young. Alone amongst my dead I stood, a bit in a daydream, under the sun.

Soon, people began to arrive and I straightened my stance and made sure my beret was on right. I was nervous at meeting the family I was assigned to.

Who would they be?

How would they react to me?

Will they cry next to me?

Will they ask me who I am?

Most of all my soul wondered:

What is it like for a parent to stand on the grave of his child?

How would my parents feel if I were that child?

How would I feel, if it were my child?

I thought about my own mother and her reservations about my army service. Soon after, I spotted a family of three: father, mother and son, heading in my general direction. It was my family.

They greeted me kindly, and indeed, the father asked me who I was and where did I serve. The mother, who had been through this before, brought out some fruits and water to nourish the soldier with the red beret standing in front of her, and though she looked at me, I could see that her mind was far away, and that I was a painful reminder of her longing to nourish her own child.

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.

For Internal Peace And International Cooperation

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The 10-day period from Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur is, as is well known, a time to begin personal introspection – an occasion to look back at one’s mistakes of the past year and plan the needed changes to improve oneself in the New Year. In the U.S. it is also a time for Americans to make positive “resolutions.”

The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Hazikaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). Unlike the American New Year, Rosh Hashanah falls in the month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. The reason for this is because the Hebrew calendar begins with the month of Nissan (when the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt), but the month of Tishrei is the month when the Almighty created the world.

Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holy Days the Almighty decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. As a result, Jews embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repenting (doing teshuvah) for any wrongs they have committed during the previous year. Jews are encouraged to make amends with anyone they have wronged and to make plans for improving during the coming year. In this way, Rosh Hashanah is all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person. Even though the theme of Rosh Hashanah is life and death, it is a holiday filled with hope for the New Year. Jews believe that the compassionate and just Almighty will accept their prayers for forgiveness.

Following the High Holy Days the Jewish people celebrate Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret-Simchat Torah, days celebrating life’s joys. These are one of the three biblically mandated festivals when the Jewish people were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Our Sages teach us that during Sukkot, in the days of the Holy Temple, 70 bulls were offered to the Almighty in the name of the 70 nations of the world. This symbolizes the era of the Messiah, when there will be peace on earth and Sukkot will become a universal festival. All nations will make annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there.

This year, as the Jewish people and the entire world face dangerous and unpredictable challenges in the political, social, economic and security arenas, the universal symbols of these Days of Awe – followed by Sukkot – serve as our guidelines for the strength necessary to overcome all adversity.

As Jews our first task is to examine our own private and communal lives and make peace among ourselves – between religious, secular and traditional Jews; Sephardim and Ashkenazim; soldiers and Talmudic scholars; and immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia and other diverse segments of the Jewish society in Israel and in exile. In a parallel manner, we as Jews must make it clear to the international community that our values as a nation since biblical times have been based on the goal of achieving peace with other nations, as confirmed in the Sukkot ritual of our offerings to the Almighty in the name of the nations of the world.

The Knesset Caucus for Israel and Global Ethics that I have established has been active for the past six years to reach this goal. We have been promoting the message of introspection and peace among the diverse segments of Jewish society. On a global level, we are creating international coalitions to achieve peace in the Middle East based on the universal values of the “culture of peace.” Our initiative, Track III Diplomacy, calls for the inclusion of religious leaders, parliamentarians and academics to fill the Middle East peace process gap. The old premise of “land for peace,” which has been the basis for the Mideast peace process for the past few decades, has failed. The Levi Commission report that determined that Judea and Samaria are not “occupied territories” supports our initiative. It is time for a new framework, based on the universally accepted values of a true “culture of peace” and the right of Jews to live in their indigenous homeland, to become the basis for the peace process.

An Appreciation: Remembering HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, A Torah Giant, On His Shloshim

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

It’s hard to believe that for the past 30 days we have been living in a world without HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, zt”l, who died at the age of 102. We may never realize the effect his longevity had on our generation. Reb Elyashiv was a true gaon and masmid beyond most people’s comprehension. Although many could not relate to his advanced levels of learning or hasmada, he represented the essence of a true Torah giant. Many revered him as the greatest posek of the generation. For years Klal Yisrael had a leader whom they relied on for guidance and halachic issues. Scores of rabbanim from around the world would flock to hear his rulings. His humble abode was the attraction of thousands who would come merely to witness his greatness or receive his berachos.

It is crucial that we recall some of Reb Elyashiv’s attributes lest we forget, as we are not accustomed to the magnitude of his greatness.

Rabbi Elyashiv, born in 1910, was an only child born to parents after 17 barren years in their marriage. At the age of 12 his family moved to Eretz Yisrael and with the advice of the Chofetz Chaim changed their last name from Erener to Elyashiv, his mother’s maiden name, to aid them in attaining visas. At a young age he was recognized as a master in Talmud study. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook suggested a shidduch for him with Sheina Chaya Levine, one of the daughters of Rav Aryeh Levine, the tzaddik of Yerushalayim. The shidduch materialized and Rav Kook was mesader kiddushin at their wedding.

Rabbi Elyashiv accepted the position of rav of Ramle for a short while. He was thereafter appointed a Rabbinic Court judge on the Beit Din Hagadol of the Chief Rabbinate. Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog, the chief rabbi of Israel, excused him from court examinations and other protocol, saying that they were unnecessary for someone of his caliber. In 1970 he resigned from that post and did not hold any official positions for the remainder of his life. He knew no greater pleasure than to sit and learn Gemara alone while singing his trademark melody.

Rabbi Elazar Menachem Man Shach urged Reb Elyashiv to join the Degel HaTorah political party. After Rabbi Shach’s passing in 2001 Rabbi Elyashiv became the spiritual leader of the party. His influence was felt in many aspects of Israeli politics.

His daily schedule began at around 2 or 3 a.m., his day filled with many hours of intense learning. One of Rabbi Elyashiv’s grandsons noticed that his grandfather – in his 90s – arose half an hour early one morning. When he inquired as to why, Rabbi Elyashiv responded that on the previous day he had met with a government minister for half an hour – and now he was making up for that lost time from learning.

Rabbi Elyashiv always thought in terms of halacha. Upon hearing the news that a great-grandson was born he immediately said, “kosher l’eidus – fit for testimony.” (Sons and grandsons are unfit to testify or have testimony said about them, as they are considered related regarding issues of testimony.)

Rabbi Elyashiv ruled on many of the major halachic quandaries of the modern world. Here are some: Although he did not write his rulings, many were recorded by his students in Kovetz Teshuvos and Ashrei Ha’ish. Many people stopped smoking on Yom Tov after Rabbi Elyashiv ruled that since most people do not smoke, more people are forbidden to do so.

Rabbi Elyashiv approved ArtScroll’s English translation of the Gemara. Without his approval the project may not have ever developed into the amazing work that it has become – and have the international impact it has today. Rabbi Elyashiv advised bnei Torah to adhere to the moment of silence held on Israel’s Yom Hazikaron. After noticing several software piracy abuses, Microsoft joined those who asked Rabbi Elyashiv for a halachic ruling on this matter. After his prohibition a significant reduction in software piracy was noticed.

Rabbi Efraim Holtzberg, a close talmid of Reb Elyashiv, related a story of a young father donning a kippah serugah who asked Reb Elyashiv about 20 years ago to accept the honor of being the sandik (godfather) for his two baby boys. Reb Elyashiv answered that he had to attend the bris of one of his great-grandsons on that very day and was therefore unable to attend. The father pleaded with him. “Rebbe, don’t you remember me? Seven months ago I came to seek your guidance regarding my wife, who was pregnant with triplets. The doctors told us that we must kill one of them in order to save the other two. You told me with great encouragement that we should not kill any of them. I have come to you now because we just had two healthy boys and one girl and I want you to be the boys’ sandik.” Upon hearing this Reb Elyashiv agreed to be the sandik and made arrangements to be at both brissim.

Ron Prosor to UN Security Council on Eve of Yom Hazikaron: ‘Proud of My Extraordinary Nation’

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In a sharply-worded and wide-ranging speech before the UN Security Council on Monday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said that the time has come “to sweep out the cobwebs of old illusions – and plant the seeds for a truly ‘open’ debate on the Middle East.”

Speaking at the ‘Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East,’ Prosor began by taking the UN body to task for losing ” any sense of proportion. Thousands are being killed in Syria, hundreds in Yemen, dozens in Iraq — and yet, this debate again repeatedly is focusing on the legitimate actions of the government of the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Still, he wanted to use opportunity to “address just a few of the myths that have become a permanent hindrance” to the discussion. Myths that “[i]n the barren deserts of the Middle East…find fertile ground to grow wild. Facts often remain buried in the sand. The myths forged in our region travel abroad – and can surprisingly find their way into these halls.”

He started by addressing the myth of ‘linkage’: that if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, than so will all the other conflicts in the region. “The truth is that conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, and many other parts of the Middle East have absolutely nothing to do with Israel.” Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he added, “won’t stop the persecution of minorities across the region, end the subjugation of women, or heal the sectarian divides. Obsessing over Israel has not stopped Assad’s tanks from flattening entire communities…has not stopped the Iranian regime’s centrifuges from spinning.”

He then moved on to the myth of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, quoting the Deputy Head of the Red Cross Office in the area to dispute it as an outright falsehood. “There is not a single civilian good that cannot enter Gaza today,” Prosor said. “Yet, as aid flows into the area, missiles fly out. This is the crisis in Gaza.” Yet, he said, “The Security Council has not condemned a single rocket attack from Gaza.

“History’s lessons are clear,” he warned ominously, “today’s silence is tomorrow’s tragedy.”

Prosor then addressed the myth that has purportedly kept the Palestinians from the negotiating table – that settlements are the main obstacle to peace. He refuted this by citing Gaza, where all Israeli settlements had been uprooted, but which has become an anti-Israel terrorist mini-state. He then went on the attack, saying that the real obstacle to peace was the Palestinian ‘claim of return’, which is tantamount to denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. “You will never hear Palestinian leaders say ‘two states for two peoples’…the Palestinian leadership has never, ever said publicly that they will give up the so-called ‘claim of return’ – neither to the Palestinian people, nor to the Arab World, nor to the international community, or to anyone else.”

As to the myth being perpetuated in the Islamic Middle East that Israel is “judaizing Jerusalem”, he said that “[t]hese accusations come about 3,000 years too late. It’s like accusing the NBA of Americanizing basketball.”

True to Deputy Foreign Minister’s Danny Ayalon’s new stated policy, Prosor devoted some time to the issue of Jewish refugees:

“In all of the pages that the UN has written about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in all of its reports and fact-finding commissions, and in all of the hours dedicated to debate about the Middle East, there is one great untold story. Or – to be more specific – there are more than 850,000 untold stories….

The pages that the UN has written about the Palestinian refugees could fill up soccer stadiums, but not a drop of ink has been spilled about the Jewish refugees. Out of over 1088 UN resolutions on the Middle East, you will not find a single syllable regarding the displacement of Jewish refugees. There have been more than 172 resolutions exclusively devoted to Palestinian refugees, but not one dedicated to Jewish refugees. The Palestinian refugees have their own UN agency, their own information program, and their own department within the United Nations. None exist for the Jewish refugees. The word ‘double-standard’ does not even begin to describe this gap….The time has come for the UN to end its complicity in trying to erase the stories of 850,000 people from history.”

He dismissed out of hand the final myth – “that peace can somehow be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians by bypassing direct negotiations,” saying that “History has shown that peace and negotiations are inseparable.”

Calling attention to the upcoming Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzma’ut holidays in Israel, he said, “We intentionally commemorate these two days one after another. As the Israeli people celebrate our independence, we carry the heavy weight of great suffering and sacrifice.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/ron-prosor-to-un-security-council-on-eve-of-yom-hazikaron-proud-of-my-extraordinary-nation/2012/04/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: