Monday, May 05, 2003

President Moshe Katsav lit a flame at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday evening to open Memorial Day ceremonies for Israel's fallen soldiers.

Katsav lit the flame immediately after sirens blared for one minute throughout the country at 8 P.M., as Israelis stood in silence. Memorial Day will continue until sundown on Tuesday, when Israel will mark the country's 55th Independence Day.

"The memorial siren for fallen IDF soldiers again makes the heart tremble and opens the wounds," Katsav said.

To date, some 21,541 Israeli soldiers have fallen.

Today is Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day. 21,541 men and women have died in defense of the State of Israel and the radical notion that Jews are human beings. As Chaim Potok has written, we may take at least cold comfort in the fact that all of Israel's wars have cost us less then three days at Auschwitz. Today, the air raid sirens are sounded for a full minute and everyone in the country stops what they are doing and stands in silence. We do this, as we always have, in the midst of war and in the hope that one day there will be peace. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a year, perhaps fifty years from now, but one day. I for one take comfort in the words of the greatest of the Jewish philosophers. Rabbi Moshe Ben-Maimon, Maimonides:

I believe with all my heart in the coming of the Messiah, though he may tarry, I will wait each and every day for his arrival.


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