Monday, May 9, 2011

The Chatzos Challenge, Back from the Holy Land: May Their Memory Be for a Blessing

Reflections, observations, and general musings from our family’s month in Israel.

Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, is ending tonight.  Tomorrow is Yom Haatzmaut, Israeli Independence Day.  The days are juxtaposed so that we should not forget the young men and women that selflessly gave everything they had so that the state could exist. 
In Chashmonaim, we met a little boy that was named after one of these young men.  One of our hosts’ grandsons came to visit the second week of our trip.  The youngest boy, about 18 months, is as sweet as can be.  Our hostess told me the story of his name:
Our hosts’ daughter was married the summer of 2006, right after the second Lebanon War.  Their new son-in-law had a best friend—a guy that was supposed to be a witness at their wedding.  The friend was also engaged.  It was a great summer to be married.  Of course, all of these guys were still serving in the reserves.  They were called up and they went to Lebanon.  The best friend served in a tank division.  He never came home. 
The sweet little boy shares his name with a hero that sacrificed everything just as his life was about to start.  The best friend would never experience the joy of fatherhood, but some part of him lives on in the little boy.
She told me that story and, of course, I got choked up.  It reminded me of a similar story of a life that ended too soon:
My husband and I were also married in the summer of 2006—the week that the war started, in fact.  We spend a good amount of time on our honeymoon checking the news and keeping tabs on the war.  We share a strong affinity for the land and were heartbroken to see the rockets falling throughout the country.  For my husband, there was an added reason to watch.  He had spent time with cousins when he was in yeshiva the year before.  Those cousins had a son that was a little younger than us that would be fighting in the war.  His cousin was also engaged and about to start a family.  Of course, watching the news can’t save a boy and we found out that his cousin was killed in his tank when we returned from our trip. 
The two stories were too similar.  The young men seemed too much alike.  They even had the same name.  In another instance of “small world, big family”, it turns out that the sweet little boy that was named after his father’s best friend was also named after my husband’s cousin. 
As we move from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut we remember the heroes, like Noam Mayerson, his memory should be for a blessing, that gave everything that they could give for the sake of the Jewish people.  We also remember the loved ones that are left behind—the parents, fiancés, best friends, siblings that are left with nothing, but memories far too early.

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