Memorial Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and Victims of Terror held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem

April 28, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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President Reuven Rivlin addressed at the official ceremony Memorial Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and Victims of Terror.

Memorial flame being lit Photo: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

He opened his remarks with a quote from the poetry of Avraham Chalfi. ‘I drew myself the kingdom of heaven. I drew myself the kingdom of heaven In green – In memory of all my dead. And they hear me calling their names And answer me with a grin. It’s sad without them in the rooms Where they left their voices echoing.’

He continued saying “And this year, this year you are alone in rooms, listening to the echoes of their voices. We cannot come to your homes, we cannot stand beside you at the military cemeteries. We cannot embrace you, to hold you close when the siren pierces the silence, tearing at our hearts.

Those who were with you the parents, the brothers and sisters, the partners, the grandparents during the hard times of the shiva, the shloshim, the first year and after, heard the big questions: how do we carry on from this, where do we go from here. Why, why carry on from here. ‘Choose life,’ we asked, we begged of you all. Life carried on outside, annoying, fast. And you battle every day for life. Teaching the body to do the obvious things: to wake up and get out of bed. To put together syllables and words until they become sentences, speech. To go out, to get in the car or on a bus. To be with people, to fall asleep at night, to sleep. And now comes this disease, and it suddenly feels as if the world is turning more slowly. Being alone like this, days like these, bring to the surface what there is for all of us. But more comes up, I know, of those who are no longer. They fill even more of the space, the longing, the pain.

President Rivlin observes a minute’s silence  Photo: v

And what about you, dear beloved families? How are you doing at the moment? How are you and your loved one who is no longer with us? What about the rooms where they left the echoes of their voices? The understanding, the feeling that we cannot be together is so difficult – family, friends, loved ones – to be in pain, for a moment, together. To feel the pain together of your loved ones that are gone. To be wrapped in the embrace of those who love them, of those who know and remember them, even if they never met them.

I know, dear families, that you do not need Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day, to remember. You have so many more days, so many more nights, all year. This day is for us. So that we can, even just for a minute, know the names and the faces, the lives and the stories of the men and women of this country, of your loved ones. So that we can remember and be reminded of the two promises that are the basis of the Israeli covenant: to build by the sweat of our brow a life worth living, one that is peaceful and safe for our children, and to bring them home whatever the cost, even if they did not return from battle. This year, we cannot cry together, this year we cannot look each other in the eye, but we remember these two promises. We will remember and be reminded, and we will feel fully, even this year, the inconceivable price we must pay so that these promises are kept.

Every Israeli home will be a memorial this year to the fathers’ hands that held a baby up high, to the smile of the son that did not return, to the wisdom of the granddaughter who is no longer here, to the lovingkindness of the boyfriend whose hand the girlfriend left behind can still feel in her own; to his love of the sea, the commotion that was always around him and his friends when they were home, to their warm hug, which was and always will be their very own. Their voices will all reverberate in rooms. Avraham Chalfi’s poem continues like this: ‘I give them life – All of my dead. And they live it again And for all time. But it is sad without them in those rooms.’

This year, more than ever, we will give them all life. We will all be memorial candles to the lives they lived and to the lives they will never live. We will embrace you, beloved families, from afar, our hearts with yours. Our souls are bound up with yours. I would like to send from here, on behalf of us all, wishes for the recovery of injured IDF soldiers and all those hurt in the line of duty, men and women who carried out their duty and now face a long journey towards recovery. May the memories of our sons and daughters be bound up in the bond of life and held forever in our hearts.”


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