By Gavriel Siman-Tov
What is a memory? Why do we remember? Why do we need to remember?
Growing up in Israel, those questions come to your mind almost every year around this time.
And it’s not just remembering. We are sharing the pain and the burden of remembering together. We are all crying for the death of our soldiers, for the innocent people who have been murdered by terror attacks. We are sharing the heartache together as one. This is something that is so special to me, that I cherish so much about Israel - we all experience that pain, and we all share it together.
Terror attacks and wars are no strangers to us. I can promise you that if you go and ask any Israeli if they have lost someone or know someone who was murdered, unforcedly their answer will be yes. This is something that was told to me a few years ago, and it kept echoing in my head. I was thinking I was so lucky I never had to go to shiv'ah. I still knew people who had died like friends of friends, but never someone close to me…. Then, this past March and April, Israel suffered from another wave of terror. There was shooting in the streets, and it was just scary. A week before Passover, there was a shooting in Tel Aviv, and two young men were murdered while sitting in a bar. Once I heard that newsflash, I was calling my family and my friends, praying that everyone was okay, that everyone was safe.
The next morning, I learned the name of the victims, and a name sounded familiar. I looked it up and found out one of the victims was the older brother of a friend of mine from my service in the IDF. I was shocked. I contacted a few of my friends and said we will go to the shiv'ah (since I was flying to Israel for Passover the following day). We went, and that sentence, “If you go and ask any Israeli if they have lost someone or know someone who was murdered, unforcedly their answer will be yes,” came back to me. And I kind of added another part in my head saying, “know someone or will know….”
Yes, this is my, and our, reality in Israel. I know it’s not always fun to hear about it, but it was important for me to share it with you, to say it.
This month is full of memory and remembering, as well as full of happiness, joy, and festivity. This is Israel. This month is us. This time to cry and time to laugh, and we do it all.