Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Yesterday I broadcast the Independence Day Torch Lighting Ceremony from Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Shlomi Shabat who recuperated from the coronavirus was there to represent the entire world of music and culture that was frozen during the last year. He suddenly began to sing "Me and you with God on our side will achieve victory, not through power, but through spirit alone." Abie Moses who lost his wife and daughter in a terrorist attack and since then works tirelessly for victims of terror, emotionally declared that his grandchildren are his victory. Dr. Dror Deker, Narjis Abu-Yaman, and Mahar Ibrahim represented the medical teams who fought together this year. Maher, a Muslim, became famous when he said "Shema Yisrael" with a Jewish corona patient during his final moments. Captain Eden Havatensh represented the police. On arriving last evening at Mount Herzl, I met a police officer who told me how happy he felt to finally guard an event like this, after a year of standing at checkpoints during the corona lockdowns.
And more: Tzipi Harpanas, a school principal, represented all those who devotedly continued to teach, although distantly, through ZOOM. The man of kindness and grace, Rabbi EItan Shnerb, who lost his daughter Rina in a terrorist attack, simply thanked those who learn Torah in Israel and expressed gratitude to the Master of the Universe. Gabriela Stiegler represented our fellow Jews in the Diaspora. When domestic violence victims Adi Guzi and Shira Iskov came on stage, I thought of other such victims who upon seeing them could gain the strength and courage to stop their own suffering. Perhaps these sufferers could understand that they have no reason to be ashamed, but it is the perpetrators who should feel that way. Major Maor Cohen reminded us of sick and disabled children. Twelfth grader Ofri Butbul represented volunteer youth. At the end, Yaish Giat, a 102-year-old pharmacist, spoke of how much he esteemed unity among all sectors of the Jewish people.
No political divisions could spoil this special mix of honorees. Whoever was looking for an explanation needs only to go back to the previous day, to the speech of the IDF Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi. He opened his remarks at the Kotel by reminding us that we are part of a grand eternal plan, and quoted what God said to Rachel through the prophet Jeremiah: "And your children shall return to their land." (Jeremiah 31:16). These torch lighters showed us how it looks now that the children have started to return.