This morning, I attended the Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzmaut (Remembrance Day/Independence Day) ceremonies in the Orot Etzion Lower Division (Chativa Tz'eira) in my hometown of Efrat.
The bleachers were packed all around the basketball court with relatives and fellow first and second grade students. More or less everyone was wearing blue and white, and there were more cameras and videocams than at an Obama press conference.
The children's presentation was so innocent and heartfelt that their words set off waves of deep and very loud sobs from the audience - noooooooo, not just me, people all around me. The tragedies experienced by the Jewish people in the past ten years... okay, in the past 60 years, or all the way back to the destruction of Bet HaMikdash and the massacre of Jews throughout Israel...are sometimes just too difficult to bear.The ceremony began with a Yom HaZikaron program, remembering the soldiers and the victims of Arab terror. Highlighted by this seven year olds was the Fogel Family, the parents and children that were brutally murdered by Arabs in Itamar last month.
We are all so conscious of putting on a brave face, or holding our shoulders up in the face of the deepest sorrow. It was a relief this morning to have a good cry along with others who also felt the loss of our brethren.
Together we share these moments of truth and national trauma. We cry together, and then together we give one another strength to go forward.
Today, the children of Orot Etzion's Chativa Tz'eira put on a magnificent (yes, it was magnificent) program filled with simple heart and love for those we have lost and optimistically looking toward what we can accomplish together.
Kol hakavod to Principal HaRav Yehuda Eisenberg, the teachers and the children who made the program such a great success.
Chag HaAtzmaut sameach - first we cry and remember those who made our lives here possible, and then we wave our flag and thank G-d for giving us the privilege of living in this blessed land.
For a peek at the ceremony, watch these:
Yom HaZikaron (Remembrance Day):
Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day):