These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Ghosts in the night

Posted on April 14, 2013 by Abayiss

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Tonight is the night.


No, I am not OK.

No, you can not help.

No, you do not understand.

No, I am not alone.


Tonight is the night I dread all year. All the ghosts that have been pushed into the shadows (with the exception of the occasional visit) come out. Tonight is their night. Tonight I am the visitor, the intruder. Tonight they will shove me another drink, just to keep me quiet, while they sit around and reminisce. Tonight I will stand, along with every Israeli and Jew in the world, and remember the brave men and women who died for this country, as well as the men, women and children who were massacred in terror attacks over the years. Tonight is the eve of the Day of Remembrance for Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.

When I was a kid, this day was the day that connected me to my heroes, the people who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I idolized them, stupid kid that I was, for choosing the noble path. Later on, I realized that the choice wasn’t always their own, and many times it wasn’t even a choice, but rather an unfortunate incident. This realization would prove to be crucial when I was older.

When I grew up, I started differentiating between the country (the state, the political entity), which I grew increasingly resentful of (especially after the disengagement from Gaza and Gush Katif, and the events surrounding that), and the Land of Israel, which I fell in love with a little more every day and every hike. I knew that one day it would be my turn to join the ranks, and I prayed that if my time came, I would die for my love, this land, and not for some pointless political agenda.

Yet as the years have passed, I have lived to see more brave brothers and sisters, boys and girls, die for this country than I care to remember. Beautiful children that will remain young forever. And I know many of them did not die for this country, but for the land that nurtured us, raised us, protected us, and would one day embrace each of us as we are laid to rest in her.

These friends have earned their place in this land. These ghosts have earned their rest. And yet tonight, they will come to remind me. They will come to tell me that as long as I remember them, they are still alive, that for one night they can forgive and look forward to the day that I join them. For one night a year, the ghosts will not keep me awake nor torment me. They will pour me another drink, numbing my senses, lowering my defenses. For one night, they will relieve me of my post, allow me to grieve and break down. For one night my friends are back, here to support me as they used to when we were a family, created by blood, sweat, and tears.

Tomorrow they will return to the shadows to haunt me, but tonight they are with me. Tonight we celebrate their collective deathday. Tonight we thank them for their sacrifice that allows us to be here.

Tonight is their night.

So, remember.