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Day 30: Iron Swords War

By Leah Garber

In Jewish life, there are joyous days and days of mourning—with clear guidelines about how to celebrate and observe each one.

Shloshim are the 30 days following a person’s death. On the 30th day, the final day of shloshim, it is customary to visit the grave, and in Israel, it is the day on which the tombstone with the personal inscription is unveiled.

Today the Jewish world marks 30 days since the murderous massacre of October 7th. We bow our heads in memory of our people who were killed solely for being Jews.

How does one mark the shloshim of an event that will be forever engraved in our collective memory as the greatest disaster to befall the Jewish people in modern times since the Holocaust?

How is it possible to contain the magnitude of the massacre, the stories of horror, the sights of the mutilated bodies, the rivers of blood, the cry of the destruction that haunts us, and will for a long, long time?

How can one comfort parents who witnessed the slaughter of their children, children who witnessed their parents being tortured?

How is it possible to visit 1,400 graves and pay respect to all the victims, when some of them have not yet been identified or buried?

And who even has the sea of tears that needs to be shed for all our loved ones, our people who were murdered and slaughtered? Where will we find words of comfort when our hearts are broken and crushed?

For years, people at Kibbutz Be’eri created elaborate obituaries to describe in detail the life stories of members who passed away. Following the October 7th massacre, it was clear no one person could write 90 obituaries in a few days, so the kibbutz reached out for help. Within hours, thousands of Israelis in Israel and around the world, including writers, poets, and journalists, stepped in, grateful for the privilege of participating in this noble cause. They added their words to the ocean of obituaries, helping to escort the 90 souls from Be’eri to heaven—like aspen leaves in a bright and pure halo of light.

As we continue to bury our dead, the death march continues, gathering in its ranks the best of our soldiers. Every day knocks are heard on the doors of families, who until that moment had prayed and hoped that the dreaded knock—the one that would change their lives forever—would not reach the threshold of their homes. At that moment, their world collapses and they join the growing bereaved family. The sadness and the sorrow are so great, so deep. How, they wonder, will the sun ever rise again, when black clouds cover its rays in thick tears?

The IDF spokesman, referring in his daily briefing to the soldiers who were killed in battle, said: “The dead mark with their deaths the conscience of the fighters—for their sake we will continue to victory.”

And because we have no choice but to move on, when the time comes, our great will to prevail will break through the curtain of tears and the warm rays of the sun will heal and cure, comforting us all.

But not today. Today is the shloshim, and today we cry, we remember, we vow never to forget. We swear to fight, to win the battle for our future—in a war that is more just than ever. Today, this 24-hour broadcast of tribute and remembrance honors the victims of October 7.

And, as this incredible video shows, our hope is not lost to be free in our land. Shema Yisrael, we are one nation, one people! Am Yisrael Chai!

Together, united, we will overcome.

Leah Garber is a senior vice president of JCC Association of North America and director of its Center for Israel Engagement in Jerusalem.

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