Monday and Tuesday this week were unusual days in Israel.
Monday was Jewish Memorial Day. Shops, restaurants and places of entertainment were closed. At 11am sirens sounded throughout the land for two minutes' silence to remember the 23,169 soldiers and security personnel who died protecting the Jewish state. There was a major service at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem and there were memorial events throughout the nation.
Writes Naomi Rogen:
The Jewish people have a blessing to bring to the world, especially to our Semitic cousins. If only they would stop shouting and crying and threatening long enough to listen, how different their lives would be! And we would give it to them freely, generously, this, our hard-earned knowledge, the knowledge of the Jews. And it is simply this: that death has no glory. And that a life can never be replaced. There is no honour, no joy, no holiness in bombs and guns and knives and mortars, in wounded flesh, and blood-soaked streets. In dead children, and broken-hearted mothers. . .
If only the BBC, and CNN, and Sky news would stop interviewing the mothers and uncles of suicide bombers, who speak of holy martyrdom, and sacred deaths, and holy wars: if only their confused reporters would simply sit and listen to Israel's keening on Memorial Day, and broadcast that to the world instead, what blessing that would bring mankind. . .
Tuesday was Israel Independence Day, when mourning turned to joy. There were firework displays, singers, dancers, picnics and barbecues on the beach, with celebrations going on into the night.
The Jews have a destiny to fulfil. They will fulfil it finally when they all return to faith in their Maker:
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger then he.
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
Streaming to the goodness of the Lord -
For wheat and new wine and oil,
For the young of the flock and the herd;
Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
And they shall sorrow no more at all.
"Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together;
For I will turn their mourning to joy,
Will comfort them,
And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.
I will satiate the souls of the priests with abundance,
And my people shall be satisfied with my goodness," says the Lord. Jer 31:11 -14.