By Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director of the Hadassah Office in Israel
I placed a wreath on Har Herzl at a monument in memory of 265 survivors who came to Palestine, fought and died in the War of Independence. They have no living relatives. As young men they lost everything and everyone in the Shoah.
It’s known as The Last Remnant and is located at the end of the road called Shoah to Rebirth. It connects Yad Vashem to Mount Herzl.
Over 1,000 Israeli high school seniors spent the morning at Yad Vashem ending in the Valley of the Communities. The message of this monument is like an unfinished house—the metaphor for their short lives. Their home was there and is no more. The home they built here never happened.
Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the young people he’s sorry that we have to pay such a high price for our sovereignty. “I am proud of each and every one of you as you will take your place in the Israel Defense Forces,” he told them.
I have been privileged for many years to place a wreath on behalf of Hadassah and the World Zionist Organization. I also placed a wreath on Yom HaShoah in memory of the British soldiers who fought for our independence during World War II.
We—Hadassah—are the only American Jewish Organization that has had the honor of laying wreaths on Mount Herzl. I am proud to represent you and to let you know the place of honor Hadassah alone has in the history of the State of Israel.
As I left, a beautiful Ethiopian soldier called out my name. “I am Rachel Avata,” she said “and I graduated Meir Shfeyah and was in Poland with Hadassah.” She’s becoming an officer and loves her service to the State of Israel. Her mother remembers that at her graduation ceremony I blessed all the children and told the parents they would all be proud of them.
In these moments I think of Henrietta Szold and how every child’s life was important. She continued to go to the villages and meet the children into her 80s.
We, dear friends, walk in the footsteps of giants who understood that leadership often requires personal sacrifice. With that in mind, we are forever reminded of the famous saying: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”
Let us continue to set our eyes to the hills and to the future.