The Jewish Report Editorial

A heartfelt reminder

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At one minute to 10am on Monday morning, I was transported back to Israel and from then on the day was one that reminded me of a deep-seated love – that I share with you -- of a crazy country in the Middle East.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | May 04, 2017

At that moment, I heard the Reshet Gimmel radio presenter before the sounding of the Yom Hazikaron siren. I was at the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria to commemorate this auspicious time on the Jewish/Israeli calendar, but in my mind I was transported to Israel, where I was able to share that special moment with the whole country.

I was reminded of wonderful times I had living in the country and the experience of the entire country coming to a halt during the siren - something you can’t understand unless you have experienced it. I was also reminded of the real cost of ensuring the existence of a Jewish State.

I thought about the mothers in Israel who know from the moment their children are born that one day they will have to wave goodbye to them as they go off to serve their country, never knowing what will happen to them. As a parent, there can be nothing tougher. It is such a huge commitment to keeping a country - at odds with all its neighbours - alive.

I looked around me in Pretoria and saw families of young soldiers - most of whom were South African - who had made that ultimate sacrifice. My heart breaks for them.

What also struck me is that each of those 88 South African soldiers who lost their lives in active duty in Israel were remembered. There were not just numbers, they were human beings who were loved and are still missed.

My sense is that each one of those 23 544 fallen soldiers will not be forgotten despite their huge sacrifice. That is something remarkable about Israel, that no matter how many wars are fought, each death is so deeply felt by the country.

On Monday we later moved onto Huddle Park, where as Yom Hazikaron ended, we began celebrating the birthday of this unique country, for which these soldiers sacrificed their lives.

A friend suggested it didn’t make sense for us to be celebrating immediately after commemorating the loss of these loved ones, but that is Israel. There is no happiness without sadness. There is no day without madness and sanity. There is no day where everything is dark, there is always some lightness.

I haven’t been back to Israel for a long time and there are many times that I get very angry with things that Israel does. However, on Monday I was reminded of my deep emotional bond to that country.

In the newspaper this week, we not only look at the commemorations of Yom Hazikaron and celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut around the country, we have a story paying tribute to the South Africans who died serving in the Israeli army and we look back at the South Africans who served in the original Israeli Air Force.

Interestingly, Yom Hazikaron and the beginning of Yom Ha’atzmaut fell on Workers Day in South Africa. This brought to light the many Jews who were part of the original Communist Party in South Africa and how Habonim Dror - which was the socialist Jewish Youth Movement in South Africa - has altered its political ideology over the years.

And as this is clearly a week of closeness to Israel, it seems the perfect week to launch our new weekly Times of Israel supplement. Suffice to say, we have heard our readers and believe there is a call for this value addition. Please let us know how you feel about it.

Shabbat Shalom!




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