Whereas many of us have gone untouched, here in America, by personal loss of loved ones due to war -- Israelis don't have such a luxury. Virtually every Israeli has in some way been affected by the myriad of wars or amidst countless acts of terror.
It is a profoundly tragic day. Everyone is sad. Everyone is grieving. Everyone's heart hurts for those who died defending the Jewish homeland and for the countless victims of terror.
The music on the radio gives voice to the somber mood. The conversations throughout the day reflect this sorrow. Memorial services, daily prayer services, visits to the grave all create a powerfully reflective, contemplative, somber and sobering atmosphere.
However, absolutely nothing is more poignant and profound than the national moment of silence. The siren is sounded, first in the evening to officially begin "the day," and again, for two minutes at 11 a.m., on the day of Yom Hazikaron.
Everyone stops. Everyone leaves their shops, pulls to the side of the road and gets out of their cars. Everyone stands up, lowers their head and cries for the dead.
For two minutes there is the wailing sound of the air raid siren all throughout the country and the wailing sound of sorrow throughout every heart in the land. For two minutes Israelis formally remember their dead. For two minutes Israelis formally grieve the dead soldiers who gave their lives defending the Jewish homeland. For two minutes Israelis formally face the pain and feel the suffering of the victims of terror and their families.
They must remember. They must never forget.
And we Jews outside of Israel must remember. And we American brothers and sisters of Israel must never forget. And we peace loving, democracy protecting, justice pursuing human beings must not only say, "never again," but do whatever it takes to make it so.
Take two minutes, stand up for Israel. Take two minutes, stand tall for Zionism and Israel's right to exist. Take two minutes, face the past and remember all that was sacrificed in reclaiming the Jewish homeland. Take two minutes, stand quietly and feel the loss and suffering of the fallen and their families. Take two minutes, face your heart towards our Israeli brothers and sisters, sending them love and expressing our gratitude for all that they have given and will continue to give on Her, and on our, behalf.
On this Yom Hazikaron, take two minutes to stand silently and pay your respects. Then, take much more than two minutes and start speaking up for Israel; start speaking out for Israel; start speaking Her praises, speaking about Her marvels, speaking about Her accomplishments, but, at the very least, speaking in Her defense and Her unequivocal right to exist as the eternal, God-given homeland of the Jewish people -- Eretz Yisrael.
Whether it's two minutes, two years, two centuries or two millennia -- the Jewish spirit will not relent; Israel will not cease and we must never give up HaTikvah, the Hope, that she will one day know two minutes worth of peace.