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For the ascent of their souls, and for the ascent of ours

צילום: פלאש90
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

It's Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and It has not been easy. I have not been able to reply to so many who have reached out to me to write about projects and initiatives in remembrance of those who fell in war or were victims of terrorist attacks, including: a campaign for donations to lone soldiers in memory of Sean Carmeli, who made aliya from Texas and was killed in Gaza in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge; special youth movement activities in honor of today; a charedi initiative to say psalms for every fallen soldier; a song written by a soldier killed in action that was just made into a studio recording by his younger brother. And that's only the beginning: I was asked to interview founders of the Netzach Acharon project that perpetuates the memories of fallen soldiers who were the last surviving members of their families, especially Holocaust survivors who made aliyah and immediately went to fight in the War of Independence (1947-49); I was urged to write about the memorial to Tamar Fenigstein as a tribute to Sheirut Leumi (National Service), in which Tamar performed alternative army service as a volunteer at Shaare Zedek Hospital when she was killed in a light rail accident; I was offered to speak to a school in the United States that is collaborating on a Memorial Day ceremony with a school in Israel via ZOOM.  And of course it is imperative to mention today Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul who were killed in Operation Protective Edge and whose remains are still being held in Gaza by Hamas.

Such a powerful wave of emotions washes over us. Perhaps we want to make amends for all the Memorial Day gatherings and remembrances that were canceled last year due to the corona lockdown, and also remind ourselves that we are not only about holding four national elections within the last two years. And yet despite our most valiant effots we cannot possibly succeed in telling the stories of the 23,928 casualties of war and terror whom we honor today.

So perhaps the best thing to do is to allow the intense energy their memory generates to be diffused throughout the year. Or to convert that energy into a special, holy powder that is carefully preserved and then dusted over those moments when an extra measure of faith and courage are needed. No, the message of today is not what we hear when the soldiers of the Memorial Day honor guard finish marching and are told, "Ha'misdar ta'avor ledom" (stand and be silent).  But the nation does need to listen, to truly remember the fallen and everything they stood for -- that we may continue to send mitzvot and good deeds in their direction throughout the year, that we may cause them to be proud of us and of what we are building together. So that we do not only strive for their souls to ascend on high in olam haba, in the world to come, but also cause our own souls to ascend as we fulfill our mission, in their memory, right here in olam hazeh, in this world below.


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