It is Monday in America, but it is Yom Hazichron [Memorial Day] here in Israel—a 24 hour period where we remember those who naphlu b’milchama [fell in battle].
I am just returning this from a Memorial Service at Yahdov Elementary School where my dear wife teaches and lights up the darkness several times a week. The first thing that takes place is the reading of the names of fallen soldiers from that school. Being in a small country that is always under attack is a far cry from the childhood I had in Virginia, where I didn’t even know of anyone who had died in battle.
Here in Israel, where on average we have had to fight a war for each decade of our existence, there is hardly a school that doesn’t know the pain of a graduate being gunned down before his adult life even began. Here it hits home; the wound is always fresh and impossible to ignore. Not a family in this county is unstained by the blood of war. If not a close relative, then it was a family friend who died defending Israel. Standing with several hundred people, the woman at the podium began to read the names:
Moshe Burjinsky shenafal b’milchimit sheshet hayamim b’1967. Hayah ben 20 bmoto. Moshe Burjinsky who fell in battle during the Six Day War in 1967. He was 20 at his death. Ruven Cohen shenafal b’mivzta shalom l’galill b’1982. Hayah ben 19 bmoto. Ruven Cohen who fell in the Campaign Peace for the Galilee in 1982. He was 19 at his death.
As she read the names I was struck when I heard the date of 1948 as the date when several of these former students had died. They died in the War of Independence. Tears began to flow as I realized that this school existed before Israel existed! Under British rule this Jewish school was birthed. They operated and educated with war and terror all around them. The teachers raised up a generation that would fight for a new nation—some, would die for this new nation. They will not be forgotten in Israel.
Below is a video that I took a couple years back. Every year in Israel on Memorial Day a siren sounds for two minutes. No matter where you are, you stop what you are doing a stand in remembrance.