The view from my veranda

Sorrow and Independence

14th April 2013
From sorrow for those who fell to celebration of what they achieved.
Tonight at 20:00 the siren’s wail filled the air of Israel. Rising in strength until it fills your soul with deep deep mourning for the cruelty of wars our neighbours imposed upon this tiny stretch of land. Sorrow that our desire for peace is not heeded and even when we are not at war our very existence causes hatred to emanate from our enemies hearts. As we stand in homage, not a soul moving, even those whose families are still complete have lost friends and in some way lost the innocence of knowing one is safe. The shopping malls, stores, shops, restaurants, clubs and bars are all closed and Israel listens to gentle music and the stories of those who survived their loved ones. Tonight as the siren wails our grief we honour one minute silence and tomorrow two minutes, this video explains today
25, 578 men women and children have fallen in shaping Israel and the 65 years since, through military action and the violence of the terror we fight every day. Many of their families were at the Kotel tonight. Brothers, sisters, parents, children listen to the President as he identifies with each of them in his speech to them and them alone.
Light a candle and see the beautiful faces of those who died to make us safe. May their souls rest in peace in the knowledge that we pay tribute to their memories.
Tomorrow the ceremonies continue, families visit the graves on Mount Herzl each of which has a black ribbon and a flag. The television and radio play gentle music. The final ceremony on Mount Herzl honours the dead but then seamlessly switches to the intense delight of Independence as we celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday! This is the video of the entire ceremony two years ago – in Hebrew but worth watching!
The 65 years of Israeli statehood are compressed into a two-minute film showcasing Israel’s achievements in the fields of science and technology, economics and sustainable development, culture and sport, immigrant absorption, humanitarian aid and peacemaking.
Marlin Levin and his young bride Betty, came to Jerusalem in 1947 and became Moshe and Batya. They went on to be great friends of Zvi’s wonderful parents Kalman and Alla, and while I always found their company fascinating, I had no idea of Marlins brilliant photography of the nascent state. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recognised his wonderful coloured photos – still a rarity in Israel at that time – that the young American Oleh faithfully recorded. Read this article and enjoy the following photography. Bravo Marlin
66 years later Moises and Esther Simpser came to Israel with a March of the Living group. From the ashes of Auschwitz to the joy of Jerusalem on a balmy evening, walking, shopping and eating. Tell me that is not miraculous!
As the ceremonies end the celebrations begin. Israel barbeques, oh boy do we barbeque!!!! Every park and national nature reserve is filled with fathers fanning their portable BBQ’s as families enjoy their day off! We travel, indeed it is another national pastime – travelling to wide open spaces and filling them with people!!!
65 years old and every year more beautiful! I cannot imagine how sad it must be to miss this beauty, to never appreciate the wonder that is Israel – to be so self satisfied that one hasn’t the curiosity to discover this miracle, this innovative, noisy, beautiful, old-new country. You have no idea what you are missing!!!
We spent Friday afternoon with Canon Andrew White in the delightful home of Connie and Bill Wilson, overlooking the Old City Walls. There I regained my belief that there is someone out there who is doing everything in his power to bring peace to this region – someone who loves this country, knows her inside out and recognises the biblical importance of us being here. Andrew, Israel needs your belief and love as never before.
I leave you with the most wonderful of all songs, written for and dedicated to our “Brothers in Arms”
Chag Atzma’ut Sameach. Never take us for granted – we are here by the skin of our teeth and yours. Brave people rebuilt this land and literally turned swamps and desert into the epitome of an agricultural and technological democratic society. They performed a miracle and the miracle is that it is now one of the safest countries in the world. Remember, the more you visit the more we feel that you are part of us – not just the cousins over the sea.
With love from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world