I went to a tekes (ceremony) for Yom Hazikaron tonight. I watched as the tragic stories of our brave soldiers played out on a screen, listened to the heartbreaking Israeli songs that have been played year after year, and couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my face. I sat and cried with hundreds of people I've never spoken to, cried for hundreds of people I've never met.
I watched a mother explain how she knew, she just knew her son wasn't coming home. How she called him and called him, praying hysterically that he'd be okay. How she received a text from him later that night, simply saying להתראות. Goodbye. And in that moment she knew that she would never see him again. I watched an American father try and tell over in broken Hebrew how much he loved his son. Try to impress upon us how unique, how special, how unforgettable his son Yossi was. I saw a wife and mother, who can still see her husband in her daughters eyes, who swears she'll never let her forget her Abba. A daughter who will grow up fatherless, a child of an Israeli hero, a child of a man who sacrificed his life for his country.
As I sat in Kikar Rabin, the beautiful lights on the stage changing images from fire to water, the multitudes of people around me silently crying, an overwhelming feeling of helplessness swept over me. There is so much grief here, so much pain. There has to be something, something that I can do to fix this.
I know I am naïve, but I cannot accept tragedy without a promise of beauty in its shadow. I know that all of these soldiers died for a cause. It was not a freak accident that took any of their lives - it was calculated death, it was a war in Lebanon, it was a terrorist attack. I know war must happen, I know death is a part of life, and I understand that this is a part of living in Israel. My sons will go to the army, they will wear the IDF uniform, and I'm sure that I will shake every time I hear a whisper of war.
But still, the question will not leave my mind. How do we avenge the deaths of hundreds of soldiers? Boys, really. Boys who laughed and played and got into trouble and fell in love and went to war but never came home. How can we make them proud, let their legacies last longer then any human life could?
The only answer I can come up with is that there is no grand gesture. There is no ceremony, no donation, no rally that will fix it all. Instead, we just have to live our lives here. We must stay proud and strong and fight for what we believe in by simply living here. By going to university, getting married, starting families and continuing the Israeli future.
Remember the fallen soldiers of Israel. I hope I will never take for granted that this country is ours. I hope I will never forget that the Jewish state is only the Jewish state because of our soldiers that protect us.
Thank you to those who have fought, those who are fighting, and those who will fight. We owe everything to you.