April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Bitter and the Sweet

“על הדבש ועל העוקץ על המר והמתוק”

“The honey and the stinger, the bitter and the sweet.”

(From the song על כל אלה)

This past week when rockets pummeled our southern communities sending hundreds of thousands of our people running for safety, it brought terrible unspeakable tragedy and unnerved and uprooted an entire country.

But in many ways, as crazy as it may sound, it also brought out our nation’s best side.

When the hands of our enemies choose to strike we choose to come together. And we come together strong.

We offer our homes to strangers in need of safety and security. We send food to the soldiers by the Gaza border. We band together as parents of soldiers whom we just don’t know if and when they will be sent into the unimaginable. We travel distances to bring comfort and support to families who are living their worst fears and suffering unimaginable loss.

Businesses join in trying to find ways to be of the utmost help, many offering to send pizza and hot meals to our soldiers and families in the south. Vendors like Aqua Kef in Tiberias, a hotspot for families, offered to host families from the South for free, providing a much-needed respite from rockets and blaring sirens. The Lone Soldier Center staff loaded a food truck with tactical gear and surprised soldiers down on the Gaza border with delicious food, cold drinks and music all sponsored by The Frisch Yeshiva High School, and other generous sponsors. The soldiers were so appreciative as many had not been home for upward of 21 days.

My son stationed down south, though thankfully not too near the rockets, shared with us the continuous support and love that the people of the community where he was stationed showed him and his fellow soldiers. A busload of young children pulled up to his watchtower and delivered delicious treats, homemade cards and coloring books. The next day, realizing that it was extremely hot, community mothers came over with cold fruit juices and incredible words of gratitude.

There just isn’t an option to sit back.

It isn’t in the language here or the fabric of our communities.

And in times of crisis we learn that it doesn’t matter if you are left wing or if you are right.

A dove can not fly with one of her wings wounded or broken.

It isn’t by chance then, that our Memorial Day and our Independence Day come one after the other. Like the two broad blue stripes on our flag, they bind us together.

One stripe for our grief and loss the other for our joy and blessings.

Both bound together eternally with our Magen David, representing our people’s innate ability to come together through times of pain and times of joy.

In Israel the stores close early on the eve of Memorial Day. The country that is always buzzing and busy and electric, settles. People visit the graveside of loved ones lost and others they have never met, paying respect to those who lost their lives so that we could live ours freely. We even go as far as to have some soldiers stand guard duty at the graveside of a fallen soldier from their unit. The soldier is given a dossier to bring the fallen soldier to life in the fullest capacity under the circumstances.

Because we never forget.

We never move on completely.

It is a deep day, when the country pulls together grieving, memorializing, honoring those we have loved and lost and those we never had the chance to know.

After the country mourns and memorializes our fallen, our loved ones stolen from us too early, our brave and our innocent, the entire country somehow manages to pick themselves up and miraculously shift from darkness to light.

Because while grief unites us it also doesn’t define us. The country that was just awash in salty tears is now bathed in brilliant blue and crisp white. Cars are adorned with flags flapping in the warm desert breeze, music is pumping; the energy contagious. The entire country becomes one enormous celebration. The streets are bedazzled with colored lights and flags. From the beaches to the parks to the forests to backyards, everyone is grilling something delicious. The air is filled with the decadent aroma of barbecue meat. Joy and laughter are our new anthem. Families and friends uniting in their own ways, celebrating the pure and unbridled love that we have for our beautiful country.

And to that there is no end.

By Esti Rosen Snukal

Esti Rosen Snukal and her family made aliya from Teaneck 6 1/2 years ago to Chashmonaim. Her eldest son Ezra is currently serving in the IDF in the Combat Engineering Corps. Esti is a volunteer at the Lone Soldier Center and a contributor to Aish.com and BlogsTime of Israel.Follow Esti on facebook and instagram @ Esti1818.

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