I went through the checkpoint this morning as I do most days of my life. I noticed that there were more soldiers than military police. A bit unusual. The traffic was backing up on both sides of the checkpoint - also not that unusual, but still something to note.
The soldiers were more...more combat than not today. Often there are young women among the military police...today there were none. Their guns were just a bit more there; their stance, just a bit more alert. There was one stationed in front of the checkpoint and to the side...much less common.
As I drove through, I realized that this was because today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. These days that are important to us in some way, are the best days for our enemies to target us. No, not because we are distracted and not because they have a higher chance of success, but because we feel so much more deeply today and on days like this.
If we are happy - on Purim, just as Passover is coming in, on Independence Day, they are going to try to do something, attack something, hurt or kill someone. These are the people who attacked our country on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. That tells us all days are open. In the hours before Passover came in, they murdered a father of 5 young children as he drove with his family. His wife was injured but survived. Four of their five children were in the car with them; one was already at her grandmother's house waiting for their arrival. But her father never got there and her mother only came later to tell her and her siblings that their father would never return.
I have a friend who had Purim taken from him many years ago. His mother and sister were murdered in a terrorist attack in the center of Tel Aviv. Each and every year as Israel begins celebrating, dressing up and enjoying, his family remembers and mourns.
And on and on it goes. Today we remember the deaths, the murder, of over six million Jews. There will be ceremonies all over Israel and in most of the schools and colleges in Israel. Another 20 minutes from now, a siren will sound for two minutes and cars and buses and trains will come to a halt...there in the middle of the street. And people will get out of their cars and stand in silence. A tribute more powerful than you can imagine in a country where six days a week, we can barely find the time to stop to eat.
Today, we won't be happy but they know that we are even more emotional than most days, more sensitive to a time when we were attacked and made victims. The radios and television stations will tell stories of those who died...and those who did not.
And our soldiers, our precious sons and daughters will be that much more alert. Since the founding of the State of Israel, they and they alone have stood between the Jewish people and the next Holocaust. It is a sacred vow they make, an oath they take.
Tomorrow, we won't be happy but with that sadness comes the reality that we know despite our tears today and the many candles burning in memory of those who died, that tomorrow and the next day, we will give our children the promise of tomorrow and the very thing denied to the victims of the Holocaust - we will give them life. And life in their own land, in a place where no one can do what was done 70+ years ago.
Never again will we allow it. That's right, we won't allow it. Israel. Israel and our sons and daughters. It is not the Obamas and John Kerrys of the world who will stop it. They will talk, as they did in the past. They would rationalize it away while our enemies strengthen themselves.
We will be sad and we will be happy - on our schedule, in our time and in our land.
May the God of Israel forever bless the memories of those who died, those who were murdered in those horrible years. May He bless Yeshaya Zeev, and Esther Chaya, and Chaim Eliezer, and Binyamin Elimelech, and Shmuel, and Raizel, and Freida, and little Gavriella and so many others.
And may God bless the Chaim Eliezers who live today, the Yeshaya Zevs and the Esther Chaya. The Binyamin Elimelechs and the Shmuels. And may God bless Elie's daughter, who carries the name Gavriella, for a little 12 year old girl who never hurt anyone, but was murdered just the same.
We have taken back Gavriella's name; Elie and Lauren have let her live on into the next generation and the next and the next. This is what we do and something they don't understand.
We are sad today, so very very sad...there will be tears today and quiet tones and sad music...but soon enough, we will smile and laugh and dance...and that too will be in their memory and in their honor.
May God avenge their blood.