Yesterday and today are two “Jewish” holidays. I only put Jewish in quotes because the existence of the state of Israel is a hotly debated topic within Jewish groups.
So yesterday was Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. Someone in particular was on my mind: Elad ben Kochava. I went on a Birthright trip to Israel last summer, and we accidentally stumbled across the funeral of a young Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier, Elad ben Kochava. Kochava is a relatively unusual name, so I was very struck by the mother of this soldier sharing my Hebrew name. The funeral was a very emotional experience, even for this normally even-keeled girl. But on the other hand, there was a beauty in hundreds of people grieving as one family. I’ll never forget that day.
A person in our group summed up the experience well: “I never thought I could grieve for someone I didn’t know.” I think that’s how I will always think of Yom HaZikaron.
And today is Yom HaAtzmaut, which is Israeli Independence Day. As is so often true of the Jewish people, sadness and joy intertwine.