The Jewish calendar has never been one for the faint of heart, and in true Jewish fashion, the schedule of Israeli holidays isn't much different.
In the past eight days, we marked the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Veterans Memorial Day and tonight, Independence Day.
When one considers the fact that the number eight in Jewish numerology (refer to the Cabala) signifies eternity, this comes as no surprise. From death in Europe, to death in the Middle East, ultimately came new life to a Jewish state, one that has taken more than two thousand years to bring forth anew in the Holy Land.
Yes, it is a lousy state in many ways. The legendary bureaucracy here puts a new spin on the word "insanity". The lack of compassion expressed in the inadequate social support system for the weak and infirm is stunningly cruel. Those who deal with families who are forced to rely on the government system can be cold and uncaring to the point of sadistic at times. Saddest of all, the laws that were established to ensure safety for Jews the world over have been twisted to allow vicious anti-semites to come and suck precious economic and other resources from a system barely able to handle the burden of feeding those it was really created for.
But when the siren sounded at 11:00 am this morning, to commemorate those who have fallen in the line of duty, I stood in silence together with the entire nation.
I heard later from another of my taxi driver buddies (I am beginning to realize that really I know quite a few) that in Jerusalem, many did NOT stand. Certain Chassidic groups, Arabs, far left-wingers.... who knows. It was a sad sign of the times; the unity with which this country won the Six Day War has long since passed as a shadow in the wind. Everything changes, however -- even that disrespect.
My daughters informed me this afternoon that in their classes, only half of the girls did not stand. The others (my daughters included, of course) stood proudly, quietly, giving honor to those who died protecting their right to live here. Perhaps it is a sign of new times coming.
Today, Independence Day, is the culmination of the tears that marked the flames of Europe and their journey to the battlefields of Israel. So many have died for our right to live.
Isn't it time for us to put the family feud aside for a while?
After all, we have the rest of eternity to beat our plowshares back into swords if we really have to.....