On Sunday evening this coming week, Israelis at home and abroad will commemorate Yom HaZikaron, a day of remembering all those who fell in Israel’s armed forces, in the security branches, and as victims of terror. Unlike the contemporary Memorial Day observances in the United States, there will be no department store sales, trips to the beach, or grilled meats. It’s a deeply sad day, for there is hardly an Israeli left untouched by this day. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who was killed in defense of the State. On Monday, at 11 am, sirens will sound throughout the country, and cars will stop in the middle of the road, people will get out of their cars, and stand at attention for the duration of the siren.
What are the images you have of an Israeli soldier? For some of us, we see children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Some of us may see the paratroopers in helmets at the Kotel in that iconic photo. I am sure that one of our dominant images is that of heroism, as we envision young men and women who make up a mandatory citizen army, ages 18-20. But I must say that as the parent of a child who plans to enlist and has already served two months in uniform, the word “hero” is overshadowed by the word “child.”
On Shabbat morning, I’d like to explore the words of a poem written by an Israeli soldier decades ago, that was set to music by Israeli recording superstar Idan Raichel. You can see the official video for the song here. The song was recorded in 2011 as part of an annual Yom HaZikaron project in Israel called “Soon We Will Turn To Song.” On Shabbat morning, in anticipation of Yom HaZikaron, I’ll teach the words of the poem, tell the poet’s story, and the story of how the song came to be.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,