Monday, May 01, 2006

In Memoriam: The Martyred Heroes of Israel

I appreciate the beauty of the newly added holidays being placed as they are, with the two holidays of remembering the fallen, first Yom Hashoah on 27 Nisan and Yom Hazikaron on 4 Iyar being followed by the two celebratory holidays of Yom Haatzmaut on 5 Iyar and Yom Yerushalayim on 28 Iyar. Even after the most violent storm, you have a beautiful rainbow. Maybe I decided o this concept subconsciously, because the rainbow is an everlasting symbol, after the destruction, that the world would never be destroyed again.

Today we went to Har Herzl, the National Cemetary. We saw the graves of the heroes who have fallen in Israel's wars (as well as World War I and World War II), the graves of Hannah Senesh, Yoni Netanyahu, and others, memebers of Nili, Lehi, Palmach, etc.
At the cemetary, I actually put Israeli flags back into some of the graves from which they had fallen out, including the grave of Yoni Netanyahu. Yoni was the commanding officer and the only Israeli killed on the rescue mission of the hijacked plane in Entebbe, Uganda on July 4, 1976. It is interesting to note that most of the dead soldiers are officers. This is not like the american army where people who have stars (ie: generals of various ranks) sit in an office. No, the commanding officer is the first into battle. Many of the graves I saw were of Sganim, Army Lieutenants. The grave next to Yoni Netanyahu's belonged to the Chief of Staff, the Israeli Equivilent to a Five-Star General who fell in battle. And even so, his grave looks just like the Private's grave nearby. It was tough seeing the mass graves (known as kivrei achim, or "brother graves") in which they put people that died together but certain body parts were not able to be identified. Our tour guide, Pardes Professor, Zvi Wolf, gave a beautiful and touching tour of the cemetary and I wouldn't be surprised if this causes some of us to sign up for Tzaha"l.

Last week I talked about my father's father's father in Warsaw. This week I want to talk about my Mother's Mother's Mother in Jerusalem. My grandmother is an eighth-generation Sabra, meaning that nine generations before her, eleven before me, her family immigrated to Palestine from Turkey (previously from Spain, but Spain didn't work out too well for our family). My great great grandmother Freda was living in the house her grandfather, Rabbi Arie Leib Frumkin, apparently built (as well as founded and drained Petah Tikvah). The Chief Rabbi of England, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks talks about him as he was also his great-grandfather. Pressing on.

In 1949 during the Independence War, my grandmother and her parents Freda and Joseph (the source of my Hebrew middle name) were sitting down to dinner in their home in Beit HaKerem, the first house ever built in that area of Jerusalem. When my great-grandmother went into the kitchen to get some salt (or was it pepper) for the soup and a Jordanian terrorist threw a grenade into their kitchen, killing her. This caused my grandmother to leave Israel and eventually meet my grandfather. Though they didn't meet here, my sabbah fought in the Palmach during the War of Independence here in Israel (though he was actually supposed to be learning in Palestine. A funny story for later that involves The Gro"sh, Rabbi Saul Lieberman

As for Yom Haatzmaut which will immediately follow, my ideas are either trying to set the world record for Largest Picnic in Petach Tikvah, or a barbeque at Pardes. Meanwhile, the family tree from my mother's mother's side may interest you. It is incomplete (and doesn't actually spell out myself or Rabbi Sacks), though you might find some of the other names a little interesting.

Thank you to the heroes and martyrs who gave their lives for the glory of God and the service of Israel, the Jewish Homeland. May their memories be for a blessing. They made the ultimate sacrifice so we could regain and maintain our land and we cannot turn our backs on them.

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