By Eli Ajzenman
The heavy rain seemed to set the somber mood last night at the Robert Blackwood Hall. The evening was a commemoration , a remembrance, Yom Ha Zikaron, in memory of all those who had given their lives either in battle or as victims , for Israel, for Jews everywhere, so that we may call Israel our home.
Solemn songs of lost friends,of battles fought, of the futility of war and its consequences were presented with heartfelt sincerity. Interspersed throughout, were personal vignettes, presented by families, of some of those who had given their lives as soldiers or as victims in since 1948.
Significantly it was about names, not numbers, as the presenter poignantly advised that numbers tended to fade into insignificance but names carry with them the souls and memories of those that no longer feel the pain of survival.
The night ended as all our ceremonies do with Hatikva.Never more powerful then when sung with 1200 hundred people all longing for our cherished land to finally be at peace.
Typically, as if after a hard battle, many , mainly Israeli’s I suspect, gathered in the foyer. Some to listen but many to join in and sing with their friends and others in a more relaxed , more reflective mood.
I left feeling somewhat in awe yet satisfied that in spite of our troubles and travails that the spirit of our people would continue to overcome and see hope and faith in the future.
The rain continued to fall as I left , yet somehow in the quiet and darkness of the night, it was comforting to know that it to gives us life , and when it clears the new day is fresh and clear.
It seems that no matter what the trajedy is, Jews somehow find a way to have simcha. And so with Yom Hazikaron finishing ,Israel and those of us here jump straight into Yom Ha’atzmaut. Birth and rebirth of Israel
Tonight at the Hamer Hall at the arts center in Melbourne many thousands came to celebrate Life , joy and all that Israel has accomplished.
Together with 18 or so featured singers and dancers. Melbourne’s Jewish community was treated to songs of joy and redemption, love and laughter.
The ceremony opened with Advance Australia Fair and the raising to full mast of the Israeli flag. A reversal from the night before when it was lowered to half mast.
Danny Lamb (President Zionist Council of Victoria) opened proceedings with warmth, tempered only by the announcement of the passing of Dick Pratt.
The haunting tones of a didgeridoo melding with the trumpeting notes of a shofar appropriately set the tone of an evening sprinkled with acknowledgement to the traditional owners of this land. Just as the Aboriginals historically are inter-twinned body, soul and tradition to their land so it is with us to Israel
The opening song was Sholem Aleichem, traditionally sung on Friday nights , welcoming in the Sabbath with its peaceful spirit. Sung tonight as an entree and welcome to all those that came to show their support.
The noise of hundreds of Zionist youth shouting and encouraging not just their friends on stage but all of us in the hall to participate and soak up the energy of the music and dancing , was in itself an inspiration. Their enthusiasm and constant encouragement a reminder that its is in our children,our youth,that the hope and dreams of past generations is embedded and nurtured.
The evening only got better with time and the audience participation in singing Oseh Shalom along with Karen Feldman, was for me a highlight. The familiar gathering of all the participants on stage for the Finale singing Kan Noladeti ( I was born here) concluded a wonderful,joyful night.
Notably and most obviously there were no references made to those that seek our destruction. No angry rhetoric or incitement to violence was uttered or implied. This was, as Jews traditionally do, a night of simcha and sholem.
Hatikva once again, ended the ceremony but unlike the previous night had a more upbeat and happy slant in its delivery.
I encourage anyone who didn’t participate this year in either ceremonies to make the effort next year. With the strains of antisemitism and Israel bashing constantly in our ears , its occasions like these that put the coarse rhetoric and angry crowds far from our thoughts.
May I anticipate the pleasure of your company next year and may it be in Jerusalem