Every year right before Yom Hazikaron (Israel Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), a large group of seminary girls (post-high school girls) come to the Yishuv. They come for a Zionist weekend, of sorts, to hear from those who live in Neve Daniel about why we love Israel, why we moved here and why we are staying.
And I have had the honor for many years now of sitting on a panel of professional women who discuss their lives as working Anglo moms in Israel. This year, I managed to solidify my thoughts quite cogently. When asked to answer the question, “What inspired you to come to Israel? Why did you make Aliyah?” this is what I had to say:
“Josh and I started talking about Aliyah when our first two children were very young. And one day he came home with a book by Daniel Gordis called If A Place Can Make You Cry. And I knew that I was about to be put over the edge towards Aliyah. Because that, really, is what life is about. You have to ask yourself what makes you cry. What pulls at your heartstrings? What makes you teary eyed for happy and sad occasions? And I’ve realized over time that the blog that I keep is really centered on this theme. When I go to my child’s nursery school Chanukah performance, I find myself hiding my face. Is everyone else crying as I am? I cry watching my son speak fluently in the language of our people; I cry watching the kids wave Israeli flags and sing songs in Hebrew.”
I said to them, as I’ve written many times on this blog, “that if fireworks can make you cry, then you know you’re in the right place. Do you girls cry when you see the 4th of July fireworks? America is a fantastic country and one to which I will always be grateful, but do the fireworks there make you cry? And do you cry on Memorial Day (that got a laugh) or do you go to the mall?”
“And this, truly,” I explained, “is what life is about. Life is about making you feel poignantly and passionately and constantly. It’s about being in a place that the Jewish people have pined for and loved for two thousand years and have finally been able to return to. It’s about being in the place where the Jews have never ceased to pray and hopefor their return.”
And so tonight, as we started Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day), I’ve had plenty of opportunity to cry. As the holiday was about to start, Nefesh B’Nefesh unveiled their latest, absolutely glorious video featuring 66 heroes of Israel. Yes, you might recognize some little guys in the video (including the lion-fighting one), but the video is incredible even without my kids. What a testament to Israel’s past, present and future; what a visual display of our resilience, our diversity and our destiny. Watch, as you think about all of the soldiers and citizens who have fallen so that we may have a country and continue to live here; watch as we head, tomorrow night, into the celebration of our 66th year as a nation.
And cry alongside me.
Because you know that’s what I’m doing.