This Week in Israel, Tears Transform into Smiles
April 26, 2012
On April 26th the people of Israel celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day. The feeling of celebration, joy, and love for our homeland is already evident in the weeks leading up to this holiday. Everywhere you walk you see Israeli flags on homes and buildings, waving freely from car windows, and posted proudly on huge billboards. Celebrating Independence Day in Israel is a spiritual event like no other.
Though Israel is a diverse society, Yom Ha’atzmaut is one holiday that is celebrated by all. As a Jewish nation living freely in our biblical homeland, we collectively give thanks to God for enabling us to witness one of the greatest miracles in modern history: the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. In the week leading up to Yom Ha’atzmaut, I love seeing the children on their way to school dressed in blue and white, which are the colors of the Israeli flag, and hearing them recite Psalms in praise to God.
Countries around the world celebrate their independence with joy. But perhaps Israel, because it was established after six million Jews were murdered at the hand of the Nazis, recognizes the importance and preciousness of its nationhood in a unique and powerful way. That is why, the day before Israel Independence Day, we solemnly commemorate National Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist atrocities.
The emotional transition that collectively takes place in Israel when we transition from the solemnity of National Remembrance Day straight into the joy of Independence Day is stark and surreal. Yet it represents our belief that salvation from God can happen in the blink of an eye.
On National Remembrance Day, the entire country mourns for the lives lost fighting for our holy country, and in every city throughout Israel there are events that commemorate and give honor to the residents who lost their lives in terror attacks or war. It is an emotional event, as entire communities gather in tears and memories to pay tribute to the heroes that made our life in Israel possible. Israel is a small country, and everyone truly feels like family. There is no one who hasn’t been touched by the death of a loved one or friend taken by terror or war.
Despite the loss and pain, we give thanks for what we have — and the people of Israel have been divinely blessed with so much to be grateful for. As National Memorial Day give way to National Independence Day, the tears transform into smiles, and slow, solemn footsteps suddenly begin to dance in joy.
The reality of National Memorial Day colliding so boldly with Israel Independence Day reminds me of the saying,” You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” It is clear to me that no reward comes without sacrifice, and that is what I yearn to remember always.
I invite you to pray for security and peace in Israel this week, wherever you are in the world, because it is friends like you that have helped us progress to the reality we know today. Your prayers and support have reminded us that we are not alone, and that is the greatest gift possible. Thank you for standing with the Jewish people, always.
With blessings from the Holy Land,