I write to you from Jerusalem a few days before Yom Ha’atzmaut and Israel’s 70th birthday celebration. I do so while sitting on Ammunition Hill, which marks the site where a heroic battle was fought and won by the Israel Defense Forces in 1967.
Today, the city is eerily quiet and draped in a peaceful malaise. It is serene. Beautifully calm. Birds chirping, the sound of children playing in the distance. However, I am drawn to the placards that depict the sacrifices made and the lives lost during one of Israel’s most important battles.
Reality sets in. The intense realization of so much loss in our collective return to our cherished homeland. The pain of Israel’s bumpy road is evident all over this site and all over this country. And, our collective journey continues and what a blessing it is.
A modern day miracle. A miracle for us, our children and for future generations. The pain and loss have certainly not been in vain.
Throughout my childhood, I heard my mother proclaim that “anything worth having is worth working for.” The constant refrain that things don’t come easy.
The notion of collective memory and the resolve of the Jewish people is incredibly compelling and exhilarating. As I look around this country, I not only see the determination of Israelis but the relentless participation of world Jewry. And, I say with pride, the inspiring contribution of Baltimoreans in the formation and development of this country.
As they say in the sport of boxing, we punch far above our weight. We should be very, very proud and, if you need proof, come visit.
So, my prayer as Israel enters this time of memory and celebration is for Israel to embrace the wisdom of our time-honored traditions and values. And, for the Diaspora, in particular those who call area codes 410 and 443 home, the understanding that we have an important role to play. Let’s not forget the miracle of Israel. Educate, experience and embrace.
Perhaps consider joining The Associated on our community mission to Israel in December of 2019 or select from the abundance of synagogue or organizational trips offered throughout the year.
In closing, on the eve of entry into the days of intense memorial for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country and the jubilation of its independence, I turn my attention back to the birds chirping and the children playing. May Israel and its people enjoy the same serenity in the years ahead as I’m experiencing in this quiet, calm moment in Jerusalem.
Marc B. Terrill is the president and CEO of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.