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Remembering the Past to Appreciate the Present by Sam Grobart

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Yesterday was Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and today is Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) in Israel. Yom Hazikaron is a day dedicated to remembering and honoring the fallen soldiers of the IDF and victims of terror. By nature, this is an unbelievably somber day. Because Israel is a small country with mandatory army service, every Israeli is affected. If you don’t personally know someone who has given their life, you know someone who does.

Yom Hazikaron is marked by a siren that is blasted at two different times. It is heard throughout the country and when it sounds, everyone and everything comes to a stop. Cars on the highway pull over, conversations in the street stop, schools and businesses come to a halt. People stop, stand, and reflect. TV channels broadcast the names and pictures of all who have fallen defending the State of Israel. Click this link to see for yourself.

Today, I remember my friend Tuvia Yanai Weissman. Yanai and I served together in the Point Company of our Battalion. While off-duty, 21-year-old Yanai, was fatally injured when he fought, unarmed, against two Palestinian terrorists who attacked shoppers in a supermarket. He was shopping with his wife and newly born daughter, making sure they had a full fridge as he prepared to leave for another few weeks in the army. With no time to think, Yanai left his wife and daughter and ran into the unknown with only courage as his weapon. After Yanai was killed, we lit a candle every day in his memory, and no matter what base we were at, continued to have a vigil with his picture and a candle. His memory and legacy will continue to shine. 

Tuvia Weissman

Pictured: Staff Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman, 21.

Immediately following Yom Hazikaron is Yom Haatzmaut, a day where we celebrate the independence of the modern State of Israel. In contrast to the somberness of the preceding day, Yom Haatzmaut is filled with massive parties, concerts, and events all throughout the country, like 4th of July Celebrations here in America. From the outside looking in, having the saddest day of the year followed by the happiest may seem puzzling. How is it that one can mourn a son, daughter, or sibling’s death one day, and the next be celebrating in the streets with friends?

The answer is simple: there is no other choice.

Throughout our history suffering, sacrifice, loss and hardship has led to experiences of joy and elation. One perspective is that we need the periods of “bad” to recognize “good”. This perspective, and the belief that we need to be able to move past difficult periods, is the definition of resiliency. To be a Jew or an Israeli is to be resilient. When we fall, we get back up. When others say impossible, we say possible. When we experience hardship and loss, we carry it with us forever, but continue to move forward. When we think of loss, we know that life is around the corner. There is no Yom Haatzmaut celebration without Yom Hazikaron. The joy of Yom Haatzmaut is not possible without the pain Yom Hazikaron. Let us celebrate the State of Israel while remembering the price paid to get here.

Thanks to you we are here - בזכותכם אנחנו פה