Monday, May 13, 2024

Israel's Memorial Day 2024

As I drove through Basel, Switzerland in my rental car yesterday, many thoughts raced through my head. Only a short five-minute walk from my hotel is the Stadtcasino in Basel, the location where the First Zionist Congress was held in 1897. This meeting was convened and chaired, of course, by Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionism movement. 

It was at this event they adopted the poem "Hatikvah" as the official anthem of the new Zionist Organization. Meaning the hope, it would later become the national anthem of the State of Israel. I often remark at bar and bat mitzvahs how fitting it is that the national anthem of Israel translates as "the hope" because that is what keeps us feeling optimistic for the future. We must remain hopeful to pass our Jewish heritage to the next generations.

As I drove I thought of how the city of Basel played such a prominent role in the story of the miraculous Nation of Israel. I also thought about how Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Day of Remembrance, would begin later that evening in Israel. Yom Hazikaron, a day in which we pay our respect to the fallen who died protecting the Jewish State, was built on the ashes of the Shoah. I smiled as I considered the irony of these thoughts while driving my rented Volkswagen.

As we honor those who defended the State of Israel today on Yom Hazikaron, I salute all those who serve Israel so that the Jewish people continue to have a homeland. At a time when anti-Semitism is once again permeating throughout the world and there are anti-Israel protests on most American college campuses, it is so dire that Israel be protected from its enemies on all sides. When the sun sets in Israel this evening on Yom Hazikaron, the Jewish people worldwide will celebrate Israel's 76th year of independence. We will sing Hatikvah with pride and be hopeful for the future. That is all we can ever do.

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