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Israeli Independence Day Ceremony

Bein Hashemashot: A Circle of Remembrance at Twilight

Two yahrtzeit (memorial) candles are kindled as someone says:

Blessed is the match
consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame
that burns in the secret places of the heart.
Blessed are the hearts
that know how to stop beating with honor.
Blessed is the match
consumed in kindling flame.

-- Hannah Szenes


Our sages of blessed memory called the twilight bein hashemashot, the time between the lights. It is a liminal time, calling forth our deepest fears and our greatest hopes. According to the Jewish way of reckoning time, it is at twilight when the old day departs and a new one begins.

In Israel, Yom Ha'atzmaut - Independence Day - follows Yom Hazikaron - the Day of Remembrance for All who have Fallen for the State of Israel.

On Yom Hazikaron, Israelis flock to the cemeteries, and hold memorial gatherings of various types, and at one point in the day, the entire country stands for two minutes of silence in memory of the fallen.

On Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israelis celebrate in many and varied ways: from music, dancing, picnics, fireworks, and goofy rituals like playing with squeaky plastic hammers and spraying Silly String, to reciting Hallel, psalms of praise and thanksgiving.

But there is one twilight moment when everyone stands bein hashemeshot, between the light of the sun and the light of the moon; between the sorrow of loss and the joy of independence and freedom.


This year, on the eve of Israel's 54th Day of Independence, we all stand between the sorrow and the joy. Most moments, in fact, the sorrow is more readily accessible. This evening, we open a circle of memory and hope: that the Land of Israel, and all the peoples in its region, will be blessed with peace.

The moment between the lights is a very narrow bridge. We must look forward, towards peace, and not be afraid.



Kol ha’olam kulo
The entire world
Gesher tsar m’od, gesher tsar m’od, gesher tsar m’od
is a very narrow bridge.
Kol ha’olam kulo
Gesher tsar m’od, gesher tsar m’od.

V’ha’ikar, v’ha’ikar

The most important thing
Lo lifached, lo lifached klal.
is not to be afraid,
V’ha’ikar, v’ha’ikar
Lo lifached, lo lifached klal.

not to be afraid at all.

-- Nachman of Bratslav


And yet we are afraid. There is much to fear today, as the violence between Israelis and Palestinians continues unabated. How do we celebrate when our hearts are filled with sorrow? How do we mourn "our own" dead when we know that many innocent "others" have also died, often at the hands of "our own" soldiers? Yet how do we have rakhmonis, compassion, for "the other" when "they" have caused the death of so many of "our own."


An Arab Shepherd is Searching for His Goat on Mount Zion

Yehuda Amichai, translated by Chana Bloch

An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion
and on the opposite mountain I am searching
for my little boy.
An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father
both in their temporary failure.
Our voices meet
above the Sultan's Pool in the valley between us.
Neither of us wants
the child or the goat to get caught in the wheels
of the terrible Had Gadya machine.

Afterward we found them among the bushes
and our voices came back inside us, laughing and crying.

Searching for a goat or a son
has always been the beginning
of a new religion in these mountains.


Hiney Mah Tov

Hiney mah tov u’mah nayim

Pay attention to how good it is, how lovely

Shevat achim gam yachad.
when brothers and sisters live together in unity.


from Parts and Wholes

Devorah Brous

You and Me
Unity, between you and me, between he and she. Unity.
Do you remember when we were one?
when one plus one plus one was one?
One word One truth One love One moment
one circle one cycle one father one source one soul oneness
Shma Yisrael. Esma Ismael. ehad. wahad. yahad. ONE.

Now We’re Two. Part 2. Two Parts

Dizzied and dazed and crazed
amazed in a maze of divisions and a maze of collisions,
a maze of parts,
we’re a maze of parts, com part men tal iz ed parts
parts of parts in apartments, in apartheid, living apart
bodies no hearts, Just parts, aqsaam, helekim
whole story in parts...this is the lost dream.

More Apart...
No more oneness, no wholeness.
The taste of holiness is wholeness.
Everybody’s here but nobody’s home.
no home one is home in the homeland. no.
Raise white flag in hand, and demand
STOP Atzor! Wakkaf!
His mothers’ pain: wajaa is the same, as your mother’s ca’evv.
It’s the same when I blame you blame, they blame you, then we blame them and the zero-sum game starts all over again...

... Partly Whole
Helekim, Perakim, these broken parts must be seen
Hearts fragmented from minds
Fear blinds and binds into signs upon our Jewish heads,
worn as a symbol on our doorposts, and on my gate
It winds and rewinds through generations, without abate

Afrada. Hafra’a. Separation.
Separating whole families into parts
Parting from peace process promises
Splitting parts to smaller parts
Peace shatters to parts.
Parts shatter to pieces.
until you and I, pick up parts of wholes

Holy Parts
AllahElohim, help us HEAL, remind us how to feel, targish,
, we can shatter this cyclic wheel of war, peel off hate, before more families are tore.
We forgot what we’re here for
...folklore! more music, more dancing, more laughter and more love (than before the last war). Now we ROAR and implore you to bore down to earth’s core, then bury your war weapons of shit in it, a pit for bits of war which We Don’t Need Anymore.

pick up the parts, ONE by one by one.
here is the holy hole
where wholeness is shredded
there’s a hole in our whole...

for the cycle to end, and the circle to mend,
can you lend a hand and bend for peace?
we’ll collect the pieces and the parts, and open our hearts
for a nes to start, bit by bit, part by part. Pick up the parts,
One by one until parts fill holes, and until parts form wholes.
we all fill a role, and we all fill a hole, changing empty into whole
Shalem. Shalom. Yerushalyim. Jerusalem/Al Quds, could we? sheem’e, tshmu’u...
Shma Yisrael... Esma Ismael!
One light. one love.
one source. ehad. yahad. Wahad. ONE...

Devorah Brous is a member of Bustan L’shalom in Jerusalem.



from The Silver Platter

Natan Alterman (interpretive translation by Rebecca Lillian)

"No state is served to a nation on a silver platter."
– Chaim Weizmann

The earth grows still and the skies pale
over the still smoking borders.
And a people --
a people whose very heart was torn from it, yet still living and breathing
rises to welcome the utter uniqueness of this miracle.
And then a young woman and a young man step forward
and oh so slowly walk
toward the nation.

Dressed in drab work clothes and heavy shoes,
they keep climbing in the stillness,
having not had time even to change out of their combat uniforms
or to wash away the grime from days of pain and nights of fire.

Exhausted to the limit
And not knowing rest,
They still wear youth like dew drops in their hair.

These approach silently and stand so still
we cannot know whether they are living or dead.

Through tears laced with wonder
The nation states at them, asking:
"Who are you?
The two of you, both so silent?"

They reply:

"We are the Silver Platter
upon which the Jewish State
was served to you."

That is all they say.
Then they fall into the shadow
at the feet of the nation.

Let the rest of the story be told as the history of Israel unfolds.


You See, O Earth

Shaul Tchernikhovsky

You see, O earth,
how very wasteful we have been:
In your secret laps of blessing
we hid seed - not the clean
Glass-clear pearls of spelt,
but seeds of heavy wheat,
Grains of yellowish barley,
oats on frightened feet.

You see, O earth,
how very wasteful we have been:
Flowers of flowers we hid in you,
fresh with glorious sheen;
They were kissed by the earliest kiss
of the sun just coming up,
Burying beauty with graceful stem,
with the crown of the willing cup;
Before they could know noon
in the midst of innocent sorrow,
Before dreaming of light in growth
or drinking dew upon the morrow.

The best of our sons we brought you,
youth of purest dreams,
Clear in heart and deed,
untouched by earth's dark streams,
The cloth of their years yet woof,
a cloth of hopes to be,
We have none better than these.
Earth, did you see?

And you shall cover them all.
Let the plant rise in its season!
A hundred measures of might and glory,
for people, homeland vision!
They atone for our lives in glory,
their sacrifice unseen...
You see, O earth,
how very wasteful we have been.


May the Holy One remember our faithful and courageous sons and daughters, soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces and others who sacrificed their lives and fell in battles or terror attacks for the sake of the existence of Israel. May these loyal heroes of freedom be sealed forever within the hearts of the entire House of Israel, from generation to generation forever.

Oh Source of all compassion, grant perfect rest under the shelter of the Divine Presence to the souls of all of our people’s heroes who sacrificed their lives for our homeland.

The One who Teaches Compassion, gather them forever in the shelter of Your wings and may their souls be bound up in the bonds of eternal life. The Eternal is their inheritance; may they rest in peace. Let us say together: Amen.




Amy Azen

O Ishmael . . .  Listen.  It is Isaac speaking.
Too long have we crossed swords over Sinai,
Too long has there been desert between us,  Where nothing grows.
Only Death.  Let there be peace.
One night,  At the foot of Sabbath,  I waited for you.
You said you would come to Jerusalem, And meet me face to face.
I watched you, Ishmael,  As you rode above the desert sand,
On a strange, colossal camel,  With smoking hooves,
Across a cloudless sky.  You alighted.  And I ran to meet you,
And held out both my hands.
I have waited for this moment  Countless generations.
We wept and embraced.
O Ishmael,  How long shall we wage war with one another?
How long must there be rancor and mistrust?
How much more blood must still be spilled  Before the final epic?
How many shall we shovel in the sand?
O Ishmael,  Let us be reconciled at last,  In the field of the dead,
By the gravestones of our beloved sons,  As we were once long ago
By the field of Ephron,  In the cave of Machpelah,
When we buried  Our father, Abraham.
O Ishmael, My Brother



Yehuda Amichai, translated by Chana Bloch

On a roof in the Old City
laundry hanging in the late afternoon sunlight:
the white sheet of a woman who is my enemy,
the towel of a man who is my enemy,
to wipe off the sweat of his brow.

In the sky of the Old City
A kite.
At the other end of the string,
A child
I cannot see
Because of the wall.

We have put up many flags,
They have put up many flags.
To make us think that they’re happy.
To make them think that we’re happy.



By the Israeli band Sheva

Od yavo shalom aleinu (3x) V'al kulam.
There is still the chance of peace for us and for everyone.

Salaam. . . aleinu v’al kol ha'olam, salaam, salaam. (2x)
Peace! For us and for the entire world.

Od yavo shalom aleinu (3x) V'al kulam.



Shir L’Shalom: A Song For Peace

Lyrics: Yaakov Rotblit
Melody: Yair Rosenblum

Tnu lashemesh la'alot,
Let the sun rise
laboker leha’ir
and give the morning light,
Hazakah shebatfilot,
the purest prayer
otanu lo tachzir
will not bring us back.

Mi asher kavah nero,
He whose candle was snuffed out
uve'afar nitman,
and was buried in the dust,
bekhi mar lo ya'iro,
a bitter cry won't wake him,
lo yakhziro lekhan.
won't bring him back.

Ish otanu lo yashiv,
Nobody will return us
mibor takhtit afel,
from the dead dark pit.
Kan lo yo'ilu,
lo simkhat hanitzakhon,

Here, neither the joy of victory
velo shirei halel!
nor songs of praise will help.

Lakhen, rak shiru shir lashalom,
So sing only for peace,
al tilkhashu tefilah!
don't whisper a prayer,
mutav tashiru shir lashlalom,
it's better to sing a song for peace
bitze'akah g'dolah!
with a giant shout!

Tnu lashemesh lakhador,
Let the sun penetrate,
miba'ad laprakhim.
through the flowers.
Al tabitu le-akhor,
Don't look backward,
hanikhu laholkhim.
leave those who have departed.

Se-u einayim betikvah,
Lift your eyes with hope
lo derekh kavanot
not through the rifle sights
shiru shir la-ahavah,
sing a song for love
velo lamilkhamot
and not for wars.

Al tagidu yom yavo,
Don't say "the day will come",
havi-u et hayom!!
bring the day!!
Ki lo khalom hu
because it is not a dream
Uvekhol hakikarot
And within all the city's squares,
hari'u lashalom
cheer for peace.

Veshiru, shiru shir lashalom,
al telkhashu tefillah!
mutav tashiru shir lashalom,
bitze'akah g'dolah!
Type: Ritual

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