Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Kalman Samuels wept when he spoke about his disabled son, Yossi, because of whom he established "Shalva", the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. Yael Sherer also wept. She eventually became head of the lobby against domestic violence, after her father abused her in childhood.
I saw lots of tears yesterday when I broadcasted the torch lighting ceremony, an annual event that honors twelve individuals for their contributions to Israeli society. The speech of each torch lighter ends with the words: "To the glory of the State of israel." Last night, tears flowed among both the torch lighters and the audience, but they were tears of triumph.
The common denominator among nearly all the torch lighters this year was a huge emptiness with which they have had to contend. Asael Shabo, a leg amputee, dedicated his torch to his mother and his three siblings whom he lost in a terrorist attack. Elizabeta Sherstyuk, from Ukraine, described the horrible reality facing our Jewish brothers and sisters who find themselves on the front lines in that country.
The question is: What do people do who are wounded or damaged, who suffer a tragic, calamitous blow? Yesterday I saw people that not only admirably coped with disaster, not only got back on their feet, but actually flourished in the wake of grievous circumstances.
The light of the torches lit yesterday was small compared to the light radiated each day by those who lit them. The limitations of Yossi motivated his parents to ultimately establish the Shalva National Center, the largest facility of its kind in the world. The childhood of Angela Alon in a transit camp motivated her to set up a warm foster home that has housed 217 children over the years. And on and on, as one torch lighter after another told a tale of darkness that was transformed into light.
And perhaps, in fact, this is the algorithm that activates the Jewish people: "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew in strength." Indeed, only three years after the Holocaust, we re-established the Jewish Commonwealth in the State of Israel and have flourished here ever since.
Therefore, last night was not a one time event in which extra effort was exerted to find twelve tzadikim. We must remember throughout the year that their story is the story of us all, that their faces are our faces and, to coin a phrase, we are all programmed from the same software.
To the glory of the State of Israel.