Tearful Smiles

Standing on Har Hertzl, on Yom HaZikaron.

I looked around me,

and I saw sadness.

I saw tears.

I saw devastation.

I saw pain.

I saw grief.

I saw thousands of graves of Israel’s bravest.

Israel’s soldiers.

I saw families and friends of these soldiers.

Still feeling the sadness, pain, loss, and grief.

I saw the Jewish nation coming to memorialize and pay their respect.

I was among those that visited the gravesites of soldiers I sadly didn’t know before their tragic deaths. My eyes filled with tears as I stood motionless, amongst tens of thousands, while we listened to the piercing siren fill our heads. In just 2 minutes, the mind wanders, feeling the collective pain. It just isn’t fair. Losing loved ones isn’t fair.

Especially when they are so young.

Especially when they have their entire lives ahead of them.

Especially when they were trying to protect us.

They risked their lives to protect ours. We owe it to them as an entire nation to show our respects to them and to their families. Most importantly to the families since they made the ultimate sacrifice. They lost their father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister. May they only know of happiness and no more sorrow. And may the memory of their loved one(s) be a blessing.

Having death around us doesn’t make me scared. It doesn’t make me want to run away. It makes me determined. It gives me strength. This is our land that we need to defend. That we need to protect. So we can live here where we belong. On the way to the ceremony, I saw 2 soldiers. I stopped and said to them in Hebrew, “Todah lachem. HaYom. V’Kol Yom.” “Thank you. Today. And every day.” Their faces lit up with beautiful smiles. It is important to show gratitude to those that truly deserve our appreciation.

And then night fell. Israel’s Memorial Day concluded and there was a change in atmosphere. Israel transformed from darkness to redemption. “MeAfela L’Geula.” We rise from the ashes and build. We live. We move forward.

And I saw hope.

I saw strength.

I saw life.

I saw smiles.

I saw fireworks.

I heard music.

I heard laughing.

I danced.

Draped in an Israeli flag. With my family. With my friends. Because the nation of Israel won’t let terror win. We will celebrate our existence in the God Given Land that we call our homeland. We will celebrate Israel’s 68th Birthday. Her Independence Day. Yom HaAtzmaut. But we will remember it was ours for thousands of years before. We are lucky to have it in our generation. How our ancestors only dreamed of living here. Every step we take on this land is a miracle. Appreciate what we have. Remember what we lost. What we sacrificed. So many only dreamed of this. And we are living their dream.

Make it worthwhile. Use every day to the fullest potential. Even on bad days. Even when life seems desolate. Remember you are alive. Thank God you are alive. So many families don’t have the luxury to say that.

Please seek out the positivity in your day.

Please smile even when you want to cry.

Please say thank you even when you want to scream.

Please look for opportunities of kindness.

Let’s make this Israel the best place it can be. Filled with love and kindness.

And together, as a nation, let’s stand unified. Let’s remember that no matter our background, no matter who we are or how we live, we are the Jewish nation. We must always remember to respect one another. Let’s celebrate life. And celebrate it even more for those that no longer can.

May God always watch over and protect the soldiers and people of Israel.

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4 thoughts on “Tearful Smiles

  1. I am so proud of you Tova. Seems like some of the words that I wrote to you going to Seminary. They became emblazoned in your heart. Abba

    Liked by 1 person

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