This year we’ve come together as a community to commemorate Yom Hazikaron, and now, we will come together to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut. Both in a very different way than previous years.
The challenges facing the world as COVID-19 rages are ones that our generations have never encountered before. We are acutely aware of the need for social distancing and the and the inability to come together to mourn, to pray, or to celebrate. These are time that place stress on each of use and force us to re-evaluate the way in which we live our lives and what is important to us.
As members of the Victorian Jewish community, we are working with all the other citizens of Victoria, Australia and the world to try and contain the virus and care for those at risk. As we watch the experiences of other countries around the world, I am sure many of us are also following what is happening in Israel, and our hearts and thoughts will be with Israel and her citizens as they marked Yom Hazikaron and now mark Yom Haatzmaut in a very different way from years past.
Notwithstanding, the different way in which we need to come together this year, as we just marked Yom Hazikaron, I am sure we will unite once again to mark Yom Haatzmaut, a very special day in the Israeli calendar. As we gather as a virtual community, we can still show our love and support for Israel by pausing to remember those who have lost their lives in defence of the State and spare a thought for those for whom the day will be made that much harder by the inability to visits the graves of their loved ones and to share memories face to face with family and friends.
At these times of worry, we also need to celebrate when we can – to talk and to take pleasure from those things in our life which are precious and to seek enjoyment in whatever way we can, and so we celebrate Israel’s 72nd birthday. The miracle of Israel is one that continues despite all of the challenges placed in her way. We are, and should be proud of her vibrant and strong population, and of the way in which she reaches out to other countries in times of need. Her innovation and technological advances remind us of the words of Yitzhak Rabin, who talked about Israel’s lack of natural resources but reminded us how great was its human potential. Even at this time, we see how true this is as Israel’s scientists work with others across the world to develop a vaccine and other medicines that can help in the fight against COVID-19.
I pray that next year we will come together stronger than ever to celebrate, but, for this year, let us join together online. I wish you all health and strength for the months to come.
Chag Sameach and Am Yisrael Chai.