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Every week, we post from seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Israel Girds for Retaliation as Iran Threatens Response over Airbase Strike

by Yoav Zitun

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Aftermath of the airstrike on a Syrian facility

Tuesday, 17 April 2018 | Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stressed on Monday military preparedness and security will need to be bolstered, taking the cue from Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi who threatened just hours prior that Israel will regret the “misdeed” of striking at the T-4 Airbase in Syria—an attack which claimed the lives of seven Iranian soldiers.

“This is a strategic challenge of the first order, which obligates all of us, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and the defense establishment, to step up and further strengthen preparedness,” Lieberman said to members of the IDF General Staff at an event marking Israel’s upcoming Independence Day.

“We are facing a new reality—the Lebanese army, in cooperation with Hezbollah, the Syrian army, the Shiite militias in Syria and above them Iran—are all becoming a single front against the State of Israel,” Lieberman cautioned.

This came after Qassemi was stated saying, “Gone are the days when the Zionist regime would hit and run. The resistance forces and Syria can defend their territorial integrity and national sovereignty,” he asserted.

He then asserted that Israel will “sooner or later receive the necessary responses to its recent crime and aggression.”

Tensions between Israel and Iran have spiked ever since the airstrike—”the first time (Israel) attacked live Iranian targets—both facilities and people,” as confirmed Monday by a senior IDF official in an interview with The New York Times.

The IDF was girding itself for an Iranian retaliation, the Times article said, but expected it to be proportional and measured. If such a retaliatory strike carried a toll of Israeli lives, however, tensions may spill over in the already combustible region.

Several moves undertaken last week attested to the Iranian determination to retaliate, Friedman said. First is the Iranian admission that its officers were killed in the original strike and their intentionally public and publicized funeral in Tehran—contrary to previous instances of Iranian casualties being severely downplayed by the Islamic Republic.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 16 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/CBS Evening News/youtube.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out for the fragile and increasingly hostile situation in the north between Israel, Syria and Iran. Ask God to shelter Israel under the shadow of His wings; to lead and guide the IDF in their future decisions and give them strategies that will protect the nation of Israel. Pray for the soldiers and the residents who live in very uncertain and fearful days.

Scripture

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings…


- Psalm 17:8

US Coalition Launches Strike at the “Heart of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Program”

by Joshua Spurlock

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The US-led strike hit three sites in Syria’s chemical weapons program.

Monday, 16 April 2018 | The United States, France and the United Kingdom launched a joint strike on what the US defense establishment described as the “heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program” Saturday morning local time, and on Sunday Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that his nation “fully supports” the decision to respond to chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime. Netanyahu, in comments released by his office, said he spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday night and “told her that the important international message of the attack is zero tolerance for the use of non-conventional weapons.”

As Syria’s neighboring country to the south, Israel has a significant stake in what happens in Syria. This is especially true given that the Assad regime and its allies Iran and Hezbollah are archenemies of Israel and the military threat was on full display when an Iranian drone invaded Israel with malicious intent in February. To that end, Netanyahu’s focus in discussing with the UK leader the response to Syrian chemical weapons attacks wasn’t limited just to the Syrian regime—or just to this one type of weapon of mass destruction.

“I added that this policy needs to also be expressed in preventing terrorist states and groups from having nuclear abilities,” said Netanyahu, recapping his talk with Prime Minister May. “I reiterated that the main element that is subverting the Middle East more than any other is Iran, and that [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] must understand that when he allows Iran and its proxies to establish a military presence in Syria, he is endangering both Syria and the stability of the entire region.”

Israel has repeatedly spoken out against the threat of Iran’s military buildup in Syria, as well as the Iranian nuclear program. That Iranian threat was reemphasized on Friday when Israel’s investigation concluded that the Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) that invaded Israeli airspace in February was poised to attack Israel.

The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Spokesperson posted to Twitter on Friday that following an investigation into the drone’s flight path and other components of the attack, the IDF “concluded that the Iranian UAV was armed with explosives & was tasked to attack Israel.”

“By intercepting the Iranian UAV, IAF [Israeli Air Force] combat helicopters prevented the attack Iran had hoped to carry out in Israel. The UAV was identified & tracked by Israeli defense systems until its destruction, effectively eliminating any threat the Iranian UAV posed,” the IDF Spokesperson noted in a follow-up tweet.

Syrian Strike Successful

Within hours of the IDF announcing the review of the Iranian threat, the US lead an attack employing more than 100 missiles from three nations against Syria in response to the latest chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime on their own people. The US Department of Defense on Saturday told reporters the strike—jointly carried out with the French and British militaries—hit three sites in Syria’s chemical weapons program.

“The strikes went to the very heart of the enterprise, to the research, to development, to storage,” said Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White in comments posted to the Pentagon website. “So we are very confident that we have significantly crippled Assad’s ability to produce these weapons.”

The Pentagon press briefing made it clear that the US has no interest in involvement in the Syrian civil war and that this strike was strictly to send a message regarding the use of chemical weapons. The US was not aware at the time of any civilian casualties or any hits to allied aircraft involved.

While the Syrian regime retains chemical weapons capability, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. highlighted the blow delivered in the strike by showing images of one of the targets, the Barzeh Research and Development Center.

“The Barzeh facility is a core site for them. And as you can see from the graphic it does not exist anymore,” said McKenzie in the briefing comments posted online.

“And we believe that’s going to—they’ve lost a lot of equipment. They’ve lost a lot of material. And it’s going to have a significant effect on them. So I think the words ‘cripple’ and ‘degrade’ are good, accurate words.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 15 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/BBC News/youtube.com

Prayer Focus
Lift up PM Netanyahu, praying for knowledge, favor, boldness and courage as he and the nation of Israel live on the front lines, facing forces of terror that may possess dangerous chemical weapons. Thank God for the US, the French and the British who faithfully support Israel in difficult times with their armies and also pray for their soldiers who are far away from home, serving in the volatile Middle East.

Scripture

In You, O LORD, I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.


- Psalm 31:1-3

Offensive Hamas Terror Tunnel into Israel Exposed, Neutralized 

by Yoav Zitun

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Hamas terror tunnel exposed and destroyed by the IDF

Monday, 16 April 2018 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has exposed and neutralized a Hamas terror tunnel encroaching into Israeli territory in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, which was described as “long and of high quality,” the army said Sunday.

The army further said the tunnel was neutralized over the past few days by filling it with cement. On the Gazan side, the tunnel connected to a chain of other tunnels, and its destruction could therefore be considered a significant operational achievement.

The tunnel was excavated after Operation Protective Edge near the town of Jabalia in the northern strip and crossed into Israeli territory, mere meters from the border fence, where mass protests took place over the past several weeks.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office stressed that at no time were the Israeli residents of border communities in danger.

The tunnel was the eighth discovered and destroyed in the past few months, with the army adding [that] it may have been used [for the intention of] a mass exodus of Palestinian protesters towards Israel or for carrying out a serious terror attack. Three of the eight tunnels were destroyed in Gaza, with the remaining five leveled inside Israel.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted about the incident, saying, “We’ve opened the week with an impressive intelligence and operational achievement with the destruction of another tunnel, the longest and deepest exposed thus far.”

“Millions of dollars were invested in its excavation,” the defense minister added, “money that would have been better served mitigating the plight of residents but has now sunk into the sand. Gaza residents, Hamas is frittering away your money on tunnels leading nowhere. We will get to them all.”

While the tunnel neutralized contained no armaments, the IDF said it was equipped for carrying out terror attacks in the immediate future. The tunnel was located through strategic means rather than the new underground anti-tunnel barrier.

All told, the tunnel crossed some 20 meters [66 ft.] into Israeli territory.

The mission to locate and destroy all of the tunnels entering into Israel by the end of the year was nearing its completion, the army stated, with the latest tunnel not being the last.

“We have put in considerable resources on the Gaza borders to avoid it becoming a main theater of war, and have additional means we have yet to utilize,” IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said.

“While we aren’t seeking escalation in the Strip, we will continue working adamantly against tunnels,” the spokesman added. “We will continue demarcating between countering terrorism and assisting the populace, with measures such as increasing the fishing zone near the Strip and the number of trucks allowed to bring in goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing.”

The IDF charged that “Hamas has been working over the past few months—and with added vigor over the past few weeks—to turn the fence area into a warzone and terror zone.

“The violent riots in the vicinity are merely a pretext for attempts at carrying out attacks both above and below ground. The IDF will not allow Israel’s citizens to come to harm or its sovereignty compromised and will continue working adamantly against terror of any sort.

“The army has been carrying out a methodical, operational, intelligence and technological mission to locate terror tunnels while construction on the barrier is ongoing to defend Israelis and the country’s sovereignty.

“Hamas continues to invest innumerable resources in hopeless terror endeavors instead of investing in the welfare of the people of the Strip.”

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz commented on the tunnel’s destruction in a Ynet studio interview Sunday, and said it constituted a “remarkable achievement. Israel is the first (country) in the world capable of locating and intercepting tunnels underground.”

“The achievement is first and foremost the IDF’s, but also of outstanding scientists from the Technion, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and even the Energy Ministry’s Geophysics Institute,” he continued.

“There may be more tunnels, I won’t divulge our intelligence on the matter. I’ll only say we are moving very rapidly to completing the project of destroying the tunnels,” the energy minister stated.

The IDF destroyed a Protective Edge-era terror tunnel in mid-March, leading from the Rafah region to the Eshkol Regional Council, which Hamas recently tried to refurbish. The tunnel was neutralized in Israel’s territory by flooding it with materials preventing its use. Another tunnel was destroyed by an Israel Air Force strike in central Gaza.

In January, the IDF destroyed a 1.5 km-long [.93 mi.] Hamas tunnel dug from Rafah to the Egyptian side, passing beneath the only border crossing for goods from Israel into the Strip at Kerem Shalom.

In October 2017, Southern Command forces detonated a terror tunnel still under construction located inside Israel near the border fence, in the vicinity of Khan Yunis. Four Palestinians inside the tunnel at the time were wounded and taken to a Gaza hospital for treatment.

“We have utilized technological means to detect it,” Brig.-Gen. Manelis said at the time. “The tunnel is no longer a threat.”

The IDF said it monitored the tunnel—not yet operational at the time of its destruction—for a time before moving on it and that it was a “blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty that will not be allowed.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 15 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDFSpokesperson/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Glorify God for His goodness and faithfulness to the house of Israel as He showers them with expertise to defend their nation and the knowledge to thwart numerous terror attempts that happen on a daily basis. Give thanks that no lives were lost; for successful operations to detect and destroy new attempts to infiltrate Israel through tunnels and cause destruction.

Scripture

Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.


- Joshua 21:45

Yom Hazikaron: Israel Stops to Mourn Her Fallen Sons and Daughters

by  Ilse Strauss

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IDF soldiers participate in an official Yom Hazikaron ceremony to honor fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018 | The wail of an air raid siren is never the harbinger of good news. It screams a warning of impending danger, of threats looming just beyond the horizon. Yet in Israel, an air raid siren can sometimes serve a different purpose. Twice a year, on two particular days of commemoration, its mournful howl calls the people of the Promised Land to remember, to honor and to mourn.

That was the case last night. At exactly 8:00 p.m., air raid sirens echoed across the length and breadth of the country. For one minute, the entire nation stood in silent commemoration as Israel mourned those who died in defense of the Jewish homeland.  The tribute lingers on today, with one more siren at 11:00 a.m. this morning—another two minutes in honor of the more than 23,000 soldiers who died so that the people of Israel could live. Today is Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism.

“We have two memorial days in Israel every year: one to remind us of the cost of having a state and one to remind us of the cost of not,” explains G. Reback. Last week on Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, the people of Israel remembered the six million Jewish men, woman and children murdered by a fanatic regime determined to exterminate every trace of Jewish life from the face of the earth. Today, Israel remembers its sons and daughters who died defending millions more from a similar fate.

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” asked well-known author, Terry Pratchett. That is why Israel remembers. Every name. Every day. But today, for the 24 hours between sunset to sunset, the nation mourns as one.

This year, the cumulative number of fallen soldiers and victims of terror stands at 23,645. Since last year’s Memorial Day, a further 71 names have been added to the list. The number includes victims of terror, soldiers and wounded Israel Defense Forces (IDF) veterans who passed away from their injuries in this year. Today, the number of bereaved Israeli parents totals 8,929, with 4,849 widows and thousands of orphans. Since the rebirth of the modern State of Israel in 1948, 3,134 civilians were murdered in acts of terrorism, including 122 foreign nationals who died in the Promised Land and 100 Israelis killed in terror attacks abroad.

At first glance, the numbers appear almost too small. Yet Israel is a tiny nation; its population one large community. Take 23,645 children, fathers and mothers out of that community and you have a nation in which every family has lost either a relative or a close friend. Moreover, in a country where each generation has fought at least one major war, the lives of every family have been touched by loss, marred by grief. There are the soldiers who died on the frontlines, protecting Israel’s right to exist, and those who were slain as buses and restaurants exploded—all those who should have still been there but are not. That is why the pain that vibrates through Israel on this day does not just hit close to home; it hits home.

Speaking last night at a ceremony at the Yad LeBanim Memorial in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the hundreds of bereaved families in attendance that the people of Israel “bow our heads in memory of our loved ones, whose blood has seeped into the soil of our homeland.”

“All families have their own agony, and every family is heroic in its own way,” Netanyahu said. “To choose life after such heartbreak is altruistic. I met, together with my wife, many bereaved families who chose life through commemoration of the fallen, commitment to the country, concern for others, responsibility, kindness, and having a shoulder to lean on. And on this special day we stand shoulder to shoulder as a united nation that sees clearly the foundations of its continued existence.”

“The message left by the fallen is loud and clear; our lives may be too short, but we have ensured the life of the nation in perpetuity. They have given us the opportunity to live. Thanks to them we are here,” the prime minister concluded.

For his part, President Reuven Rivlin delivered an address during the national commemoration ceremony at the Western Wall. “We will not stop for a moment to work for the country your children fought for.”

“We did not leap into the tunnels as right-wing or left-wing, we did not lay in the trenches as the periphery and moshav [collective settlement] communities, we did not storm the enemy as kibbutzim [communal settlements], villages, and cities,” the president added. “We will continue to be a society that fearlessly and relentlessly holds back any enemy which disputes our right for a home in our land. At the same time, we won’t let any rift, gap, or divide embed itself among us.”

Israelis will continue today to observe the solemn day of remembrance by lighting candles and placing a miniature flag of Israel on the graves of family, friends and loved ones buried in military cemeteries across the country. Yet sundown tonight will mark a transition from sorrow to joy as Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance, makes way for Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. This year, the modern State of Israel turns 70 years old.

The transition from one day to the next, from mourning to celebration and from tears to the sound of laughter filling the streets can appear startling at first. Yet it is arranged like that on purpose. Those who laid down their lives on the front lines did so for one goal: Israel’s rebirth and continued existence. The sacrifice was made so that there could be such celebrations of independence. That is why the two days are intertwined. That is also arguably why Israelis mourn with such passion, only to celebrate with equal passion on the day that follows.

As Israel remembers its fallen sons and daughters today, Bridges for Peace stands alongside the people of the Promised Land in mourning. As the grief turns to celebration tonight, we wish Israel a happy 70th birthday.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 18 April 2018)

Photo Credit: אבישי טייכר/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Bring the nation before the Lord, asking Him to give them the comfort that surpasses all understanding as they remember those who gave their lives so that others might live. Lift up parents without children, children without parents, brothers and sisters—those who know the price of losing a loved one. Give thanks for the State of Israel that was established to be a safe haven for the Jewish people, a place where they can joyfully live in peace ever after.

Scripture

My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.


- Lamentations 3:20-23

Palestinians Throw Firebombs, Burn Israeli Flags, as Hamas-Led Violent Riots Continue

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Palestinian protesters burn Israeli flags on the Israel-Gaza border.

Monday, 16 April 2018 | Hamas-led violent riots continued for a third consecutive week, as Palestinians at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel threw firebombs, attempted to breach the border fence, and burned Israeli flags, The New York Times reported Friday.

Gazans gathered at five points along the border with Israel. Israeli troops used live fire to keep rioters away from the border fence.

In the report, the Times described how Hamas uses human shields to protect terrorists, observing that while some rioters were “peaceful,” others located just a few feet away “prepared gasoline bombs to hurl at the Israeli side.”

A number of rioters ignored Israeli warnings and approached the border fence. Israeli soldiers responded to the attempted incursions with gunfire and tear gas.

As opposed to last week when Hamas told Gazans to gather thousands of tires to burn to obscure the vision of the Israeli soldiers, this week the riot’s theme was themed “Flag Friday.” During the week, printers throughout the enclave produced “thousands” of Israeli flags for burning. The symbolism casts doubt that the intention of the riots was to encourage coexistence with Israel.

A cleric, who gave a speech at one of the riot locations referenced a Koranic verse saying, “This day, Jews will be behind stones, and the stones will speak, saying, ‘Come Muslims, and kill this Jew who is behind me.’ ” The message of the cleric, the Times observed, was “homicidal.”

A rioter who spoke to the Times insisted that the riot was peaceful, but added, “If I had weapons, I would kill and abduct soldiers.”

The Times of Israel reported that the White House called on the Palestinians to keep the riots peaceful and to stay at least 500 meters (a little more than 500 yards) from the border fence with Israel. According to the Times, rioters were as close as 350 yards from the fence.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 13 April 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/AP Archive/youtube.com

Prayer Focus
Offer petition for all the IDF soldiers serving Israel at Gaza, in the north or manning checkpoints throughout the Land. Ask God for alertness, comfort in the heat and sound heartbeats as difficult decisions and actions are part of their everyday lives. Give thanks to God for protection, for going before them to prepare their way and for being in control whether these terrorists burn flags, chant or riot.

Scripture

Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.


- Exodus 23:20

Israelis Barred Entrance to Tunisian Taekwondo World Junior Championships

by Tomer Ganor

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Israel’s Taekwondo Junior National Team (illustrative)

Tuesday, 17 April 2018 | In another instance of an all-too-frequent injection of politics into sports, Israel’s Taekwondo Junior National Team was denied a permit to enter Tunisia to participate in the sport’s 2018 World Junior Championships, set to open in the North African country, and in another competition held there simultaneously in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games.

Heads of the sport in Israel completed in advance registration for the Israeli athletes, some of whom compete in the sport’s highest levels and have notched accomplishments in the international arena.

In addition, the sorting competition for the Youth Olympic Games began in Tunisia Friday, with success in the contest providing entry to the games, held in Argentina between the 6 and 18 of October.

Registration forms were sent ahead of time, enclosed with requests for visas to Tunisia for the Israeli delegation. After a prolonged period of Tunisian officials ignoring the request, however, the Israelis were promised to be granted visas and for the taekwondo experts to be allowed to compete with no Israeli insignias or symbols.

The Israeli delegation indeed agreed to compete without state flags or writing “Israel” on their uniforms, and without the Israeli anthem being played should one of them win gold, but Tunisian authorities refused to allow them to compete nonetheless, alleging the forms were sent in too late.

An Israeli taekwondo official was incensed, saying, “We sent all of the forms on time, including registration. We did everything in an orderly fashion to be granted visas. They never responded, and then promised we’ll get the visas. Now they’re lying and saying we failed to submit on time.”

Chairman of the Israeli Taekwondo Federation Michel Madar, who also serves on the board of World Taekwondo—previously World Taekwondo Federation—arrived to Tunisia with his French passport and in a professional capacity, in order to attend the world federation’s general assembly.

Madar also attended the conference hoping to attain approval for the Israeli delegation to enter the country. When the Tunisian airport official noticed Madar’s French passport was issued in Jerusalem, however, police officers placed him on a plane and unceremoniously expelled him back to Paris.

Heads of the Israeli Olympic Committee have begun operating on the matter, bringing into the fold International Olympic Committee and World Taekwondo officials as well.

“We have done everything by the book, waited on the visas for ages and never got them, despite agreeing to compete without Israeli symbols. This is very serious,” the Israeli taekwondo official concluded.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 07 April 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.) 

Photo Credit: Israel Taekwondo Federation/facebook.com

Prayer Focus
Lift up the participants whom have to deal with the rejection of their Jewishness in today’s modern world where racial discrimination is supposed to be a thing of the past. Give thanks to the Lord for the heart and fire inside every Jew that causes them to push forward and continue to struggle in the fight for their existence and acceptance. Ask God to work in the hearts of nations and reveal undeniable support for Israel in a very precious way.

Scripture

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.


- Deuteronomy 7:6

It’s Good to Live for Our Country

by Racheli Frenkel

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Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, kidnapped and murdered in 2014

Wednesday, 18 April 2018 | Editor’s Note: Racheli Frenkel, the mother of Naftali Frenkel, one of the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered on June 12, 2014, shares her feelings on Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism.

“So how do you feel on Memorial Day?” The question took me by complete surprise. It wasn’t at all clear to me that I would play the game. The role of the bereaved family.

Memorial Day has hardly changed for me since the murder. Life has changed, and there are special days too—the birthday, the day of the kidnapping and the murder, the burial day—but my Memorial Day has hardly changed. I don’t feel a stronger connection to this day now. It has always been my Memorial Day.

I once heard about a support group for parents who lost their children in a mass-casualty incident. At one point, they were asked what was on their horizon, what they wished for themselves now. One of the parents had the audacity to say, “My goal is that my family will have an even better life than before the disaster.” Within the sea of pain in the group, this wish almost seems arrogant. The truth is that one can wonder and fail to understand, and one who is familiar with the burden of the yearning and the pain can doubt and question, but this aspiration is completely appropriate!

In fact, we know that happiness isn’t the result of continuous pleasure, but of meaning, activity, gratitude, friendly relations and family ties. It doesn’t happen on its own and it doesn’t happen without a choice and effort, but we can definitely imagine the lineup of these elements of goodness building up and intensifying in the gentle mending processes that form after a disaster.

In one of her studies, sociologist Brené Brown asked dozens of people who had experienced bereavement what could be done for them. She repeatedly heard the following answer from the family members: When I see you cherish the blessings in your lives, it helps me heal. When you respect what you have, you respect what we have lost.

People don’t yearn for the highlights of their life, and they don’t even yearn for the events they won’t get to experience with their loved one. They endlessly miss the ordinary days, the little moments they had almost despised.

Once, after an event focusing on “Brother’s Keeper” (the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] search operation to find kidnapped teens Naftali Frenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah), I was approached by a person I didn’t know, who asked me: “Which one of you said that thing about the Priestly Blessing? I have to thank him.”

I knew what he was talking about. The three teens’ fathers were asked in a radio interview what they missed the most. Ofir, Gil-Ad’s father, talked about the custom of letting the children gather under the prayer shawl during the Priestly Blessing and about Gil-Ad’s painfully tangible absence in those moments.

The man standing in front of me wasn’t referring to the heartbreaking aspect of that story, but to the celebration of life. He was given a gift—he always used to bless his own children that way, but those moments just passed by him. He nearly missed them. Now, he cherished them very much. They became moments of gratitude and magic. The essence of life. This applies to one’s personal life and it applies to the entire society. The skill is to raise the price of the good, and in light of the price—to make life even better.

My Memorial Day has hardly changed. It has always been mine, ours, the closest thing to sanctity that can be created by a secular calendar. It has never been perceived as a gesture towards the bereaved family, as a show of respect and goodwill, a gesture towards the victim. It’s coming together around the loss we are all experiencing. One doesn’t have to lose a close relative, God forbid, to feel that this date is part of Israel’s personal and familial calendar.

But our memorial days have never been a veneration of the dead. This isn’t a culture of martyrs. We will always favor, appreciate and celebrate life over death. It is good to live for our country, it is good to live. It is good to raise the price of life.

When we gather, with respect and yearning, around the names and faces we knew, it’s not an addiction to pain. It’s not a macabre day of mourning. It’s a day of renewing the commitment, of reviving the alliance.

We mention our loved ones, the joy and the smiles, so they will keep living among us. Our mission is to make life here better, thanks to them. Their friendship is our challenge, their solidarity has become our responsibility: To incorporate the memory of love into caring, to incorporate the passion into respectful disagreements. To turn the self-sacrifice into further closeness, and to turn the memory into life.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 17 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise God for teaching us, through the example of His people, how to live, to appreciate life, to count our blessings and to trust in Him. Ask God to bless our Jewish friends and the lessons we can learn from them as they have sacrificed much but through it all celebrate life!

Scripture

If I say, my foot slips, Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.


- Psalm 94:18-19

In the Name of His Grandfather

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IDF Chief Warrant Officer Moni Gedi at Auschwitz with his grandfather’s prisoner number engraved on his arm

Monday, 16 April 2018 | To commemorate his grandfather who was a survivor of the Holocaust, Chief Warrant Officer Moni Gedi decided to tattoo the same number on his arm that the Nazis engraved on his grandfather’s arm, a dehumanizing way to identify camp prisoners.

Every year, hundreds of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers travel to Poland with the program “Witnesses in Uniform” to remember the Holocaust and mourn the memory of the six million Jews killed during the tragedy.

On this occasion, Gedi, who serves in Yaltam, one of the Israeli Navy’s special forces unit, participated in the march that takes place in the Auschwitz concentration camp as a part of the program.

“I found myself thinking about my grandfather nonstop and about the loss. The loss of everything he had. I found myself writing something to my grandfather that I had hoped to read when I arrived in Auschwitz,” Gedi recounts during his stay in Poland.

Finally when he arrived to Auschwitz, Moni read the words he wrote while showing his tattoo of the number 79723, the same number as his grandfather.

“Dear grandfather, in your last moments, I was a 19-year-old soldier; a young soldier, standing, wearing the uniform next to your bed in the hospital and you were happy that the Jewish people have an army. Through me, you are part of it too.”

Through tears, Chief Warrant Officer Moni Gedi continued reading.

“Today, I, part of your offspring, am in Poland, in Auschwitz, with a tattoo of your number by my own choice, a free person, a soldier in uniform of the Israel Defense Forces. I’m here to show that the number that was recorded as part of the mechanism of destruction of the Jewish people did not disappear. I’m here to honor their memory and show that the Nazis failed in their attempt to annihilate us.”

“Rest in peace. I, in the uniform of the Israel Defense Forces, promise you: never again. I love you, grandfather.”

Source: (Israel Defense Forces originally published this article on 12 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: www.idf.il

Prayer Focus
Ask God to bless Officer Gedi for honoring the suffering his grandfather and other Holocaust survivors endured and give thanks for his desire to educate others about the harsh and true reality of an attempt to annihilate the entire Jewish nation. Pray that truth will continue to be told and stay in our history books.

Scripture

Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you–‘a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!


- Deuteronomy 6:3-4

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