As we commemorate Yom YaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, the following short speech was given at Haifa’s Yom HaZikaron Ceremony by Alex Shafran, a member of the Boston-Haifa Connection Young Leadership Committee.

by Alex Shafran

Today is Yom HaZikaron, our Memorial Day for our fallen soldiers and for victims of terror in Israel. created at: 2011-05-08Today is gloomy, filled with clouds of terrible pain and sorrow. Today is a day of doom, of communion, of silence, of convergence. Today is a day of thousands of loved ones who are no more, of thousands of souls whose voices have been silenced. Today is unique, for our entire nation is all one family with the memory of its sons and daughters who fell in the battle for Israel.

Tomorrow we will fly our flags high from atop the masthead and celebrate the miracle of our independence. But we will remember the price we paid, the blood of the fallen, the grief of the bereaved families, and the pain of the wounded and the disabled whose bodies carry the scars of war.

Hannah Senesh, the parachuter who plunged into the inferno of Nazi-occupied Europe to save her brothers from the fire, wrote simply, and poeticly beautiful: “A voice called. I went. I went for it called. I went lest I fall.” This inner voice is clear and pure commands the heart,  It’s the foundation of our national home, and without it, we would not have had a rebirth.

In my eyes, this day symbolizes more than anything else, our willpower. At the founding of the state, future Prime Minister Menachem Begin said: “It was difficult to establish our state, but it will be more difficult to maintain it.” He was right. There’s no other country in the world whose existence is challenged on a daily basis. But as long as we desire life, no enemy can defeat us.

This year, we celebrate 63 years of the State of Israel’s independence. In 63 years, we have built a state that is a light to the nations, but our small country was not given to us on a silver platter. And today there are those challenging the right of our existence here and want to destroy us. But we are a strong nation and no one will break us.

We will always remember that all our achievements come at a heavy price. We mourn with you the memory of your loved ones, who gave their lives for the protection and future of our beloved homeland and country. Those who have fallen for the State of Israel will be in our hearts forever, and their souls live on with the Jewish people and the State of Israel from generation to generation, for Israel’s eternity.

Alex Shafran is a member of the Haifa City Council and the Boston-Haifa Connection’s Young Leadership Committee