There are a handful of Jewish observances that follow in quick succession shortly after Passover, beginning with Yom HaShaoh (Holocaust Remembrance day). These national holidays highlight remembrance, independence, unification, and celebration. All of these holidays and observances, inter-relate in ways that fortify the Jewish soul and strengthen Jewish community.
When Israel became a state in 1948, four new holidays were added to the Jewish calendar: Yom HaShoah, which we observed last week, Yom HaZikaron (Memorial day which began at sundown last night and continues today until sundown), Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence 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 Saturday, May 28).
The foundation for all four of these national Israeli holidays is memory, a living connection to our past. We remember the ancient past, through the power of our liberation story we tell during Passover. Seven weeks later, we remember our revelatory experience at Sinai, where we received the gift of Torah. We remember the recent past, with everything it brings us–horrific tragedies and inspiring victories.
Without memory, we lose track of who we are as a people. May our remembering elevate the souls of those we have lost. May honor be brought to their names. May our days of celebration reflect our deep gratitude for our homeland and dedication to keep the Jewish people strong.