The history lesson
“I will build you anew and you shall be rebuilt, oh Israel” (Irmiahu, 31, 4)
The rebirth of the state of Israel represents an extraordinary history lesson. A lesson on the courage of a people that is fighting for its own existence with a dedication that does not stop short of the supreme sacrifice. Therefore, we cannot rejoice on Iom Haatzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day – without shedding a tear first in the memory of those that died so that Medinat Israel could live on. Iom Hazikaron – Remembrance Day – was celebrated by the Israeli Embassy in Romania through a particular festivity. Solomon Negrea, the father of an Israeli soldier who died on duty, recited Kadis in memory of his son. The children from the “Lauder-Reut” kindergarten-school were taught – and their performance of Israeli music and dance proved how well they learned this lesson – that victory has not been and is not offered us “on a silver platter,” but is conquered and maintained, if need be, by paying with one’s life. Their teachers were the guests dr. Miriam Bercovici, former surviver in Transnistria, Shaul Raz, military attachÃ© of the Israeli Embassy in Bucharest, Prof. Dr. Raul Sorban, one of the Romanian Righteous Among the Nations. Perhaps neither the songs, nor the dances had such a strong emotional impact as the fifty-two candles that were lit by the children who made a wish for the cause of Israel.
It has by now become a tradition for Israel’s Independence Day to be celebrated at the Romanian National Opera. The presence in the audience of many foremost representatives of Romania’s political, social, and cultural life, the presence of the leaders of the Romanian Jewish community, the high-class professionalism of the performers at the gala concert have all contributed to emphasize the esteem that Israel has in today’s Romania.
The opening of the festivities was performed by the actress Maia Morgenstern who emotionally read the welcoming speech – an address by His Excellency Avraham Millo, Israel’s Ambassador in Romania, to all present at this celebration:
“Two hundred generations have passed since the beginnings of the Jewish people’s history. Only two hundred generations since on the stage of history a man named Abraham appeared who, following God’s command, left his home and his homeland and set out for a realm that today bears the name of Israel. 150 generations have passed from the pillar of fire that signaled redemption through the exodus out of Egypt, to the pillar of smoke that signaled the disaster caused by the Holocaust. Each and every member of the Jewish people, each child of Abraham born throughout these generations has lived and experienced all these things. They have always been wanderers, following in their forefathers’ steps, yet never throughout the never-ending years of exile has their spirit been broken or their yearning for Zion quenched.
Two thousand years ago the people of Israel was chased out of its country and driven out of its homeland and was scattered among other nations, across mountains and seas. Throughout the years of exile, they had to endure religious persecutions and anti-Semitism. One third of the nation was exterminated, incinerated during the terrible Holocaust. Today they no longer wander from place to place, from country to country. The Jews have returned to their homeland and they have rebuilt it. The Jews are no longer defenseless, they are no longer a target for whomever feels the urge to strike others. They have re-entered history. This is the triumph of light over darkness, of justice over evil, of the face of God over the beast within man; a proof of the supreme justice of history.
Today, Israel is 52 years old. It is the only country in which children teach their mothers to speak their mother tongueâ€¦ The only country that, as years went by, has absorbed a population which is five times larger than the one it had in 1948. An overlapping of cultures, traditions, colors, a unique combination between the ancient and the ultra-modern. A country which, despite the many perils that have threatened its very existence, was never tempted to give up democracy and its values.
Listening to the Nabucco overture performed by the Romanian Opera’s Orchestra conducted by Razvan Cernat, we felt the presence of the sublime, something of God’s power, the dignity of suffering, the firmness, the way in which the Jewish people has known and still knows to love its country. We admired the accomplished personality of the Italian soprano Efrat Rotem. And the closing “Golden Jerusalem,” murmured by all of us, was a spontaneous confession of what the Jerusalem of the soul means for the tribe of Israel, wherever it may exist around the world.
“EL MALE RAHAMIM” for the heroes fallen defending Israel
Proving not spacious enough for those come to honor the Israel of our hopes and sustenance in times of need, the Coral Temple has known, this year as well, the excitement of celebrating a day that is sacred for Jews everywhere. It constituted a new opportunity for those embracing the values of democracy – many representatives of Romania’s cultural life, official representatives of diplomatic missions in Romania, representatives of the various religious cults – to manifest their friendship and solidarity with the Jewish people. And, since there is nothing else that addresses the human sensitivity as directly as music, it was natural that it be offered the floor first.
We bowed our heads as we listened to the litany of the chief cantor Tibi Kovari (accompanied by Aurel Madescu on the organ) spoken in memory of the Jewish heroes fallen in the fight for Israel. Academy member Nicolae Cajal and Israel’s Ambassador Avraham Millo lit candles in memory of the 20,000 young men who sacrificed their lives for the building of modern Israel’s edifice of exceptional achievements. Rabbi Eliezer Glanz delivered a prayer for peace in Romania, Israel, and the whole world in front of the Aron Kodes opened by Academy member Nicolae Cajal and counsel Iulian Sorin. The “Sira Vezimra” choir and the players of the “Klezmer” Orchestra (conducted Izu Gott), the Coral Temple Choir (conducted by Maximilian Kertesz) enhanced through their music this profound desire for peace expressed by our daily salute: Salom. El Male Rahamim (interpreted by Tibi Kovari) and Mi Seasa Nisim (a prayer delivered by Rabbi Eliezer Glanz), the moment of peace held in memory of the dead closed the opening part of the festivity.