When Israel became a state in 1948, four new holidays were added to the Jewish calendar: Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance day, which we observed last week), Yom HaZikaron (Memorial day which began at sundown last night and continues today until sundown), Yom Ha’atzmaut (Indpendence day which begins at sundown this evening and continues through tomorrow until sundown), and Yom Y’rushalayim (Jerusalem day, celebrating the unification of the city in 1967, which begins the evening of Sunday, May 9th).
We emerge from the liberation of Pesach and then step into a succession of national holidays highlighting remembrance, independence, unification, and celebration. Then, seven weeks after Pesach, we find ourselves at the mountain (Sinai), ready to receive the gift of Torah.
All of these holidays and observances, inter-relate in ways that fortify the Jewish soul and strengthen Jewish community. The foundation for it all is memory, a living connection to our past. We remember the ancient past, through the story of our liberation story and the gift we received during the revelatory experience at Sinai. We remember the recent past, with its horrors, its gifts, its honor, and its victories.
Without memory, we lose track of who we are as a people. May our days of remembrance bring honor to those we have lost. May our days of celebration reflect our deep gratitude and our dedication to keeping the Jewish people strong.