This week Jews around the world will pause and remember the fallen Israeli soldiers, victims of terrorism in Israel and global Jewish victims of terrorism and hate crimes as we commemorate Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day, followed the next day with the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day.
On the eve of these commemorations and celebrations we are reminded in the Southeast that the works of small groups of Jews around the world continues to be part of the gift of this home for diverse Jews.
What is good for the Jews is a home for all Jews, a place where diversity and inclusion can be honored and celebrated. This week in the Southeast we were reminded that upstanders continue to grow our love of Israel and strengthen the bridges between Global Judaism and Israel.
On this, the eve of Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day, we join with the IDF to memorialize those who have fallen and to honor those who work for the safety and security of all Jews. We honor the Israel Defense Forces, who was ranked as one of the top gay friendly military in the world for its policies and education on LGBT rights. Have you ever looked at the IDF facebook page? Did you notice the full rainbow of soldiers photographed there? That is in part because of the active and deliberate way the IDF enacts its zero tolerance policy for gay hatred or for preaching violence against the LGBT community. We go into this week of commemorations holding in our hearts this commitment to all Jews as expressed by the IDF and its value driven morals for inclusiveness.
We unite this week as Jews who support and keep Israel safe and strong. We depart from the week of Yom HaShoah and hold in our hearts and in our actions the words of Martin Niemoller’s iconic poem, “then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” These past few weeks, the Jews of the Southeast and of the nation have demonstrated that being an upstander means building bridges by standing side by side with one another against hatred, against anti-gay preaching and against violence. As we turn to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, we affirm that a strong Israel is one in which we are all upstanders who face the bully, face the hatred and say, no more, not again. Israel was built by those who were upstanders to the hatred, to the violence, to the discrimination, who said, we will not forget, not in our lifetime.
This week Jews around the world will celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. We will recall the words of Israel’s Declaration of Independence:
We can only hope that all friends of Israel this week will recall these words on which Israel was founded and will seek to emulate the Israel Defense Forces which it supports in its values of inclusivity and diversity. We hope that in the weeks ahead we will continue to repair the bridges with all of Am Yisrael. We hope that we will continue to be part of a Jewish community who emulates just inclusivity in all its actions and beliefs.
Od Lo Avda Tikvateinu.
We have not lost hope.