The Week Between

Paula R. Stern,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Paula R. Stern
Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier"s Mother. The blog continues as Elie moved on to Reserve Duty, her second son, Shmuel served in Kfir and continues as her youngest son David now serves in Givati. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish. Links to the Author's blogs: * A Soldier"s MotherPaulaSays Israel Blogger...

There are few countries in the world, if any, where such a wide range of emotions are experienced year after year in such a short period of time. It starts with Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day. Such agony, such memories, such pain. Despite all expectations to the contrary, for the last two years, I have spent four days attending a conference in Germany. The first time, I went from airport to hotel one block away to convention center across the plaza and back to forth until it was time to walk back to the airport. I didn't use the free train and bus pass that I was given as a conference presenter. I didn't go beyond the narrow walls.

The second time, I thought I was brave. I used the free pass to go downtown. I got off the train, walked slowly to the next train station and caught a train back to the hotel. I walked past buildings that had been destroyed during the war and rebuilt, past stores and shopping and my eyes were on the people. The young, the older, and the old. I told myself to look away when I saw the old, but I didn't. To speak to them would be to ask, and the wondering was bad enough.

In Israel, on Yom Hashoah we also look at the old. Are you a survivor? How are you doing? Tell me of your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren. Tell me so that I can remember; so that I can keep your story in my heart. We watch them cry and know they've had a lifetime of crying and that there is little we can do to remove a pain so great it has lasted them 70 years and more.

At the end of Yom Hashoah, as the 24-hour candle burns out, you know you aren't done yet. There is another. Not harder, but not easier. Yom HaZikaron - Israel's Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks. Agony again. If you thought you'd cried your tears before, you learn the heart has an almost endless capacity to cry. We watch them cry and worst of all, we know they have a lifetime ahead of them yet to cry. And where the Holocaust is a tragedy that happened and now we live with the results, our wars and terror attacks are on-going. No one thinks we have fought our last war, buried the last victim of a terror attack.

And so, even as we go through this week, knowing that Yom Hashoah is behind us, we know we have a mountain to climb before we get to Tuesday. Monday night we will dance and smile. We'll watch fireworks and barbecue and smile and laugh. But Sunday night and Monday, we will reach the deepest depths of sorrow. One channel will run all the names of the tens of thousands of people who have died for this land, in this land, as a result of violence.

We will listen to children speak of their fathers, wives cry for their husbands. We will watch as devastated parents speak of the last time they saw their son, of the note they didn't know he had written to them. We will listen because how can we not? Because we know that in listening, we help them. A bereaved mother once asked me how many children she has, now that she has lost one. You have five, I told her, just as she always did. Yes, she agreed, I have five...only four of them are alive.

And as the day begins to end, our thoughts drift to the night and that makes us feel bad and so we push the thoughts away a bit, plan quietly. And then the skies darken and it's time. This year we will celebrate 69 years...69 years for a country few expected to last a month, certainly not a year.

We are stronger than we have ever been; we are raising the most amazing children. We are on the map as one of the most industrious countries in the world...we lead in cyber security, medical research, development of sophisticated weaponry. We are a kind and gentle society and we have so much to be proud of.

It isn't an easy week - emotions up and down and all over - but it is one that we welcome each year. Each is tied to the other. The Holocaust did not bring about the creation of the State of Israel, but it certainly gave, once and for all time, the very essence of why there must be a Jewish state. And before we can celebrate the independence, the creation, and the accomplishments of that Jewish state, we must stop and remember, thank and pray for those who gave their lives so that we could live here. 

Yom Hashoah. Yom Hazikaron. Yom Ha'atzmaut - Israel as only Israel can be. May we find comfort in the memories of those we lost. May God avenge their deaths and mazel tov to all of us. Happy re-birth, Israel!