Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day)isn’t like Memorial Day in America. I can’t even say whether Memorial Day is in September or May in America – one of those holidays is Memorial Day and the other one is Labor Day, right? But what does Memorial Day mean to me in America? Certainly, I appreciate the soldiers who fell fighting for America, and I know the holiday is close to many people’s hearts. But for me, and for most people that I know? It’s an extra day off of school and work – and a chance to enjoy some good sales.
Not in Israel. Unfortunately, many people say that you’ve really become an Israeli and you’ve really adjusted from your Aliyah when you have someone to think about on Memorial Day. Memorial Day in Israel is raw, painful, and on-the-surface. Almost everyone in this country knows someone who has died defending it – whether it was in the Six Day War or last week.
We, too, became truly “Israeli” in this way, if you will, a few years ago when a family that we know in Efrat lost their son. Ann and Mordechai Goodman made aliyah with two boys, and then had 7 more children. They settled in Efrat and started a pizza store that has been very popular, and ever-present, over the years. I was teaching their daughters English the year that they lost Yosef, one of their sons.
What is so remarkable about families like the Goodmans is the decisions that they make after such a tragedy. Last year, when we went to Jeff’s swearing in ceremony for the army at the Kotel, I saw the Goodmans from far away. I said to Josh at the time, “Oh my gosh – what are they doing here? They must be filled with memories. Do they really have another son going into Yosef’s unit?”
To which Josh replied, “Of course they do.”
And that, really, is the essence of what amazes me about these families.
Of course they do.
Of course they’ve allowed their many other sons to follow in their deceased son’s footsteps and to join combat units.
Of course they have.
In Israel, once you’ve lost a child in the army, the army only allows a future child to be in a combat unit with the parents’ permission. Can you imagine being given that decision? Read the latest article about the Goodman family, and join me in marveling at their resilience, Zionism, heroism and fortitude.
These people are truly what our country is all about – they are the reason that we’ve won so many wars, survived so much hardships and created this incredible country. I can only hope that we are raising our boys to show the valor and determination that the Goodman boys express in this article.
We remember these soldiers today who have fallen so that we may live here and be a testament to their memories.