Tag: Memorial Day

Four Funerals and a Memorial Day

This week we are burying four people: a young husband/father/brother, four days later his 80 year old father, a woman with significant challenges, and a woman who struggled with dementia. These brief identifiers do little to describe the vibrant lives and loves that animated the people who died. Each life was full; each loss is painful. Each family will remember warm memories as they walk the long paths of mourning.

Mourning Jewish Soldiers among all American Soldiers
As these individual families prepare to bury their loved ones, we as an American nation observe Memorial Day, a day to remember all those who lost their lives in defense of our country. How do we remember them? Countless individuals have given their lives.

Over email, one may receive a listing of soldiers who died each week. It contains sparse information – a name, rank, hometown. The list is lacking the stories and details that animated the person behind the name. Recently, the National Museum of American Jewish Military History published a list of Jewish soldiers who lost their lives in recent conflicts. Perhaps you will pause for a moment and read each name, ensuring that our Jewish brothers and sisters are recognized – a least in our hearts – for their sacrifice.

A Prayer for Memorial Day
The prayer below, written by Rabbi Matt Friedman and originally published on the RJ.org blog last year, may be read as you start or conclude your day.  You might read it before the big barbecue or your trip to the beach.

Let us ask God to protect, heal and comfort those who serve. And let us, by praying, raise our own awareness, sense of responsibility, and appreciation for those who defend our country.

Eloheinu v’Elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu – Our God and God of our ancestors,
Watch over those who defend our nation.
Shield them from harm and guide them in all their pursuits.
Grant their commanders wisdom and discernment
in their time of preparation and on the battlefield.
Should battle erupt may their victory be swift and complete. 

May the loss of life for any of your creations be avoided.
Grant healing to those who are wounded
and safe redemption to those who fall into enemy hands.
For those who have lost their lives, grant consolation
Your presence to those who were close to them. 

We also ask that you stand with our President and all our military leaders.
Guide them in their decision making
so that Your will is implanted within their minds.
May it be Your will that world hostilities come to a rapid end
And that those in service are returned safely to their families. 

We pray that freedom will dawn for the oppressed and
Fervently we hope that the vision of Your prophet will come to be,
“Let nation not lift up sword against nation nor learn war anymore.”
May this vision come to pass speedily and in our day,

Learn more about how you can support the men and women in our armed forces by visiting the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism’s Support Our Troops page.

Memorial Days Past: Remembering Operation Solomon

Article by eJewish Philanthropy

Over Memorial Day weekend, 1991, 14,325 Ethiopian Jews fulfilled their dreams of making it home, as they were airlifted from Ethiopia to Israel in 36 hours of around the clock flights during a covert military operation known as Operation Solomon.

At the time, the sitting government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was close to being toppled by Eritrean and Tigrean rebels, thereby threatening Ethiopia with political destabilization. Concurrently, the Mengistu regime had made mass emigration difficult, and the regime’s dwindling power presented a promising opportunity for those who had been wanting to emigrate.

Operation Solomon airlifted almost twice as many Ethiopian Jews to Israel as Operation Moses. The operation set a world record for single-flight passenger load when an El Al 747 carried 1,122 passengers (1,087 passengers were registered, but dozens of children hid in their mothers’ robes). Planners expected to fill the aircraft with 760 passengers. Because the passengers were so light, many more were squeezed in. Two babies were born during the flight.

boarding in Addis Ababa
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir welcoming new immigrants at Hadera Absorption Center
Children receiving their first clothing after arrival at Kfar Tavor

images courtesy MFA and El-Al