Remembrance plays a significant role in Judaism. When we memorialise we achieve two things. One, we give honour and dignity to those who have passed on. Second, we inspire ourselves through their message and empower ourselves to continue their legacy.
This past Monday we remembered all those who perished in the Shoah and I was honoured to attend the large, communal Yom Hashoah event put on by the Jewish Board of Deputies. This event is probably the largest Jewish communal event of the year and rightly so! We must never forget what happened to us and we must continuously remind the world about the dangers of bigotry, prejudice and the human capacity for evil.
On Sunday and Tuesday I was privileged to take part in Anzac day remembrance ceremonies put on by the RSL sub branches at Mascot and North Bondi (See pics). Exactly one hundred and two years ago thousands of Australians landed at the shores of Gallipoli and the other theatres of WWI including a significant proportion of Jewish servicemen and women. We as Jews have always been proud to serve alongside our fellow countrymen and women as we have always understood the necessity to continuously fight to ensure our freedoms. Personally, I always find it a humbling experience to wear the Australian military uniform. Yet donning it on Anzac day adds an extra layer of meaning and significance when I remember the service of all those who have come before me in service of our country.
Next week we will remember Israel’s fallen soldiers on Yom Hazikaron (Monday) and the following day we will celebrate Israel’s victories and founding on Yom Haatzmaut. Again, these days are powerful opportunities for reflection, contemplation and gratitude. We must never take for granted the freedoms that we are so lucky to enjoy here in Australia and the independence that we as a Jewish nation have in our 69 year old State. I would like to assert that we have got to be the luckiest generation in Jewish history since the destruction of the second Temple. Just think about it. If you wish to say a prayer at the Kotel and eat a falafel in the Jerusalem Shuk, all you need to do is book a ticket and turn up! Now, when in the past two thousand years, has a Jew had such an opportunity? If you would have offered this to any Jew living only one hundred years ago, they would have thought you were crazy!
Indeed we have so much to be thankful for! So over these days of remembrance I encourage you take time for personal learning and reflection as well as to attend the various communal events that have been arranged. And join us in Shul! Last Shabbat we held a very special Anzac service in the lead-up to Anzac day replete with memorial prayers, an Anzac address and Anzac biscuits! This Shabbat, we will dedicate to all those who have fought and continue to fight for our beloved State of Israel as we commemorate Yom Hazikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. Please make sure to join us for what will be another special weekend!
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman