The Silver Platter: A Poem for Yom HaZikaron

MFAJ02e30Remembrance Day, Yom HaZikaron, which begins this evening, is a day of collective and personal anguish mingled with honor for the fallen. The official events begin at 8:00 PM with a moment of national silence heralded by a one minute siren followed by the lighting of a memorial candle at the Western Wall.

This year we remember:

A total of 23,544 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods. 3,117 civilians were killed due to hostile acts since Israel’s founding in 1948. This number includes foreign citizens killed in terror attacks in Israel as well as Israelis killed in terror attacks abroad.

Since Remembrance Day 2016, 60 members of the security forces have been killed in the service of the state; 37 wounded veterans died of their injuries and 11 civilians were killed in terrorist attacks.

“A State is not handed to a people on a silver platter.”
Chaim Weizmann, first president of Israel

The Silver Platter
Nathan Altermam

The Earth grows still.
The lurid sky slowly pales
Over smoking borders.
Heartsick, but still living, a people stand by
To greet the uniqueness
of the miracle.

Readied, they wait beneath the moon,
Wrapped in awesome joy, before the light.
– Then, soon,
A girl and boy step forward,
And slowly walk before the waiting nation;

In work garb and heavy-shod
They climb
In stillness.
Wearing yet the dress of battle, the grime
Of aching day and fire-filled night

Unwashed, weary unto death, not knowing rest,
But wearing youth like dewdrops in their hair.
– Silently the two approach
And stand.
Are they of the quick or of the dead?

Through wondering tears, the people stare.
“Who are you, the silent two?”
And they reply: “We are the silver platter
Upon which the Jewish State was served to you.”

And speaking, fall in shadow at the nation’s feet.
Let the rest in Israel’s chronicles be told.