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“Remember and Celebrate,” Rabbi Zecher’s Shabbat Awakenings

May 6, 2022 | 5 Iyyar 5782

Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way to Shabbat.

You can listen to it as a podcast here.

In Israel, Memorial Day, Yom HaZikaron is somber. There are no barbeques or mammoth discount sales. It does not signal that summer is right around the corner. Israel’s establishment and continued existence has come at a heavy price with the lives of its young soldiers.

A walk through the cemetery on Mt Herzl in Jerusalem shows their ages, mostly in their 20s and 30s. I have never been there without seeing parents and relatives grieving. Israel erected a beautiful serene memorial nearby to its soldiers. Their names line an escalating rotunda that swirls upward as if reaching toward the heavens. True to Israeli realism, there is still more room on the walls. It is impossible not to cry, weep even, as you read each name representing a life cut short.

The last time I was there I found the names of soldiers in my nephew’s unit who were blown to pieces during the war in Gaza. I took a picture of their names and showed it to my brother. He said they had all been in his house, laughing and enjoying being together. It was a bittersweet memory. My nephew named his first son after one of his comrades from his unit. Hai. Life. Hai is named in memory of his friend’s life and also as a sign of hope for life to continue.

Immediately after Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day, ends Israel turns its attention to the celebration of its independence, Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Linking the two with the days side by side is a solemn reminder of the precarious link between war and peace, death and life, sadness and joy. Israel lives it every day.

I know there are troubling concerns about Israel, about the stability of its government, about the strength of its moral core as it deals and responds to Palestinians. Being troubled about it does not negate being committed to Israel. This past week was Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Both speak to what it means for Israel to exist. I believe in Israel’s right to endure and thrive even as it faces tremendous challenges as a sovereign state. Our own country faces equally onerous hurdles. I’m a committed American though I am often deeply troubled by the actions of our government. I am not abandoning either.

As a Jewish community, we are inextricably linked to the land and the beautiful and complex expression of Judaism flourishing in Israel. Zichronam Livracha, May all the lives lost be for a precious blessing so that others might live freely and with peace throughout the entire land.

Shabbat Shalom!

Connect with me HERE. I look forward to corresponding with you and to hearing your thoughts.

  • We join together for Qabbalat Shabbat, onsite and online, at 6:00 p.m. Tonight I will speak about what has transpired with the release of the Supreme Court draft document on its decision concerning abortion and individual rights. I will share the d’var Torah in next week’s Shabbat Awakenings. Join on Zoom, on Facebook Live, or stream on our website.
  • Tot Rock Shabbat gathers online at 5:00 p.m.
  • Torah Study begins at 9:00 a.m. To join the conversation interactively, access Zoom. You can also watch on Temple Israel’s website or Facebook
  • 10:00 a.m. Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat will take place onsite and outdoors. No registration necessary.
  • We say good-bye to Shabbat with Havdalah at 8:00 p.m. Join on Zoom ,or Facebook Live, or stream on our website.
  • If you’d like to provide financial assistance to Ukraine, please consider visiting the WUPJ / EUPJ Ukraine Emergency Support page to donate.

Shabbat Shalom!