By Leah Garber
When I’m gone,
Something inside you,
Something inside you,
Will die with me, will die with me.
When you’re gone,
Something inside me,
Something inside me,
Will die with you, will die with you.
For we all are, yes, we all are,
We all made as one life human tapestry,
And if someone is missing,
If someone is living,
Something will die in us,
Forever will, remain, with him.
— “One Human Tapestry” by Motti Hammer
In the seasons of Jewish time, there are days that offer an enduring sense that we are, as Motti Hammer aptly sings, “one human tapestry”—in pain and in mourning, as well as in joy. Having just observed Yom HaShoah, this week, we will commemorate Yom HaZikaron and celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut through “Days of Memory: From Commemoration to Celebration,” a JCC Association of North America movement-wide event.
On the first of these days, our entire nation will stand silent and bow its head in deep gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. On Yom HaZikaron, we will commemorate the nearly 28,000 Israelis killed in battle and acts of terror since the early days of modern Zionism in 1860. We will recall that each one had a name, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, a future tragically cut short, and loved ones who carry on in a grip of sorrow that never loosens and for whom every day is Yom HaZikaron.
Such are the families of Gilad Shaer, z”l, Sean Carmeli, z”l, and Hadar Goldin, z”l.
In June 2014, 16-year-old Gilad Shaer and friends, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach, were kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists as they headed home from school. They quickly became “our boys,” as we and Jews worldwide prayed for their safe return. Eighteen days later, when their bodies were found, we cried and mourned, with a powerful sense of unity, family, and memory. Our boys were laid to rest together in a state ceremony attended by 200,000 people; countless others watched remotely.
As part of Yom HaZikaron: The Power of Jewish Peoplehood Through Personal and Collective Mourning, Gilad’s mother, Bat Galim Shaer, will share her story and how she’s devoted herself to bridging gaps and building bonds—all in memory of her beloved Gilad. She will be joined by family members of Sean Carmeli, an IDF lone soldier who was killed in Gaza in July 2014 and whose funeral was attended by 40,000 Israeli-flag-waving individuals from across the country and by Chemi Goldin, brother of Hadar Goldin, who also was killed in Gaza in 2014 and whose body remains with Hamas.
Echoing the joy and sorrow inextricably woven together in Israeli life, so it is with Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. As Israel’s Memorial Day departs, ushering in Yom HaAtzmaut, the country will shed its grief and immediately move to the joy of Yom HaAtzmaut, celebrating the 73rd year of its miraculous existence, independence, and strength.
Israel’s extremely limited, precious natural resources have fostered technological breakthroughs in cybersecurity, medicine, agriculture, and emergency response, among other fields, and created a culture of innovation that gives the country top billing as a “start-up nation” throughout the world. On Yom HaAtzmaut, during the final Days of Memory event, we will visit with some of Israel’s most creative thinkers and explore the innovations that have changed the world.
In a conversation moderated by Avi Jorisch, author of “Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World,” viewers will hear from the son of Israel’s former president, Shimon Peres, z”l. Chemi Peres, a venture capitalist, invests widely in innovative technology. We’ll also get a glimpse into the groundbreaking work of Gil Shwed, a “godfather of cybersecurity” and a respected entrepreneur; Dovie Maisel, founder and vice president of operations for United Hatzalah of Israel, the country’s largest independent, non-profit EMS organization; and Naty Barak, chief sustainability officer of Netafim, the preeminent drip irrigation company helping farmers conserve water around the world.
These creative innovations have enabled Israel to flourish as a powerful, magnificent Jewish state. As citizens, we stand united in pride at our country’s accomplishments; we stand united in grief, remembering our sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our home; and we stand united in hope for a peaceful, prosperous future for our country and all her people.
As we prepare to commemorate and celebrate these important moments in Jewish time, please join us to learn and to listen and to hear the stories, the music, and the voices that make us a resilient, enduring, and hopeful people; indeed, one human tapestry.
Check out Yom HaZikaron: The Power of Jewish Peoplehood Through Personal and Collective Mourning and Yom HaAtzmaut: Moments of Pride Through Israeli Innovation and plan to join us for these programs, which will debut on the Days of Memory channel on Virtual J on April 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. each evening.
Leah Garber is a vice president of JCC Association of North America and director of its Center for Israel Engagement in Jerusalem.