Let’s Schmooze!
Like Me, Pretty Please!
Subscribe to the Tribe!

Enter your e-mail address to get Mishegas of Motherhood in your Inbox:


From Mourning To Celebration, Israel Teaches Us Resilience

During these challenging times of corona, every day, every hour, is unpredictable. Sometimes fear and sadness seem to overlap with laughter and happiness, all in the same moment. Our resilience is being tested right now. Even in the darkest hour, we have faith that there will be light again. This strength is never more evident than how the Jewish people transition from Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) to Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), which is April 27 and 28 this year.

In the time span of a week, Israel goes from mourning the six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust (Yom HaShoah), to the next week remembering the soldiers who sacrificed their lives , Israel Memorial Day, to the very next day celebrating Israel becoming a state, Israel Independence Day,  Yom Ha’atzmaut. Typically these momentous events draw crowds of people, but during the pandemic lockdown the many ceremonies took place in empty venues and were broadcast online, allowing the world to witness how a nation comes together in solitude in the worst and best of times. This trajectory of lows and highs, our ability to adapt and to never give up, has led to the survival of the Jewish people. And this is the kind of strength that we all need to embrace during the global health crisis.  

Last year around this time, I was lucky enough to be in Israel for all three holidays. I remember the morning, 10 a.m. sharp on Yom HaShoah, a two-minute siren blared across the land. I, along with hundreds of other visitors, paused by a babbling brook at Del Tan Nature Reserve in Israel, and all I could think of was the water gushing from the nearby Jordan River. To me, the water represented the ever flowing tears for all lives lost and how through us they live on.

Tel Dan Nature Reserve.

Then the Jewish calendar fast forwarded to Yom HaZikaron, a somber time to honor the brave soldiers, as young as 18 years old, who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  And on the next day, Yom Ha’atzmaut, we celebrated the victory of finally having our own homeland. This remarkable transition from darkness to light, from sorrow to celebration, is the source of our great strength.

Jack and I celebrating Israel Independence Day in Jerusalem, 2019.

While in Israel last year visiting my son, I witnessed this incredible crossover between pain and loss, to hope and pride, in a 48-hour period. For example, on Yom HaZikaron,  we heard stories from families who lost loved ones who dutifully served in the IDF, including  one particular interview with a grieving mother who took us on a tour of her teenage son’s bedroom, his track jersey hung on the wall and his tennis shoes scattered in the closet, keepsakes before he went off to training and never came back. Dignitaries, family, friends, neighbors, and strangers took this day to salute the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, their heroic act is never forgotten nor taken for granted.

And the next day, on Yom Ha’atzmaut, we woke up to a new scene and a festive breakfast of blue and white pastries. We cheerfully waved blue and white flags, watched fighter planes cross the sky in airshows, clapped our hands at the music of live bands at the First Station, gathered for barbecues and grilled shish kabobs in the park with friends, and mingled at a cocktail party on the rooftop of the Orient hotel in Jerusalem.

Throughout our history, we give tragedy all the honor it deserves, and we always remember those who came before us, whether they have perished in the Holocaust or on the battleground. In times of tragedy, we cry, we mourn, we fall to our knees. And then we get back up. We remain faithful that tomorrow will come, and the world will be better. We come together as a nation through it all. This is the story of our lives, no matter where we live, and we can see this happening as the world battles the COVID-19 enemy. In Israel, the Jewish people move from the most solemn day to the most celebratory, this is what shapes who we are today and this is what carries us toward the future. This is a lesson for all of us.

The Cohen Family on Rothschild Blvd. in Tel Aviv.

We have another opportunity for transition every Shabbat, when we go from our busy lives, to a time to pause and be at peace. This purposeful day of rest beckons us to quiet our minds, turn off the daunting news, and set aside our worries, even if for a brief moment. It is a time to refuel and be grateful. If we have good health, we have everything. For others who are suffering from illness and loss, we pray for them and try to help in any way we are able to. Even if you do not normally pray, these powerful words from the heart gives us something tangible to do, something we feel we have control of. Shabbat is a powerful time to pray because we become closer to God. For women, when we do the mitzvah of making challah and lighting Shabbat candles, this is a special time for our most heartfelt words to be spoken and heard.

Shabbat is a good time to pray, period, but especially now for doctors, nurses, and essential workers risking their lives every day as they march into the frontlines, whether a grocery store, hospital, delivery truck, or workplace. If you’re looking for a way to pray for the healthcare workers, join this newly launched global community carewithaprayer.org, created by Momentum’s Israel Public Council, a group of diverse women from Israel society with the aim of fostering unity in Israeli society and the world.

The pandemic has shown us the lows and the highs. Just as thousands of new deaths and COVID cases are sadly reported everyday, so are the acts of kindness and generosity to others, whether making masks and dropping off snacks to nurses, or donating food to local pantries, or donating money to your favorite charities, wherever there is a need that speaks to your heart. In times of darkness, such as now, this is when the light truly shines through.

On Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, April 28th, another torch will be lit, this one by my friend, teacher and Momentum Founding Director Lori Palatnik. She was chosen to light the “Diaspora” torch at the national ceremony among other Jewish leaders who have made a significant impact on the Jewish people. Lori has led more than 20,000 women from the Diaspora, including me in 2013 through the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, which is now called Momentum. The idea is  to Israel to strengthen our Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish state even after we return home. Each year, 12 torches are lit, each signifying a specific category, and Lori will be lighting the torch on behalf of Jewish people around the world.

The annual Yom Ha’atsmaut event usually brings together celebrity guests and dignitaries from around the world, but because of the pandemic, the ceremony will be broadcast internationally from Har Herzl with no live audience. The good news – millions can watch the lighting ceremony unfold from the comfort of their homes. Go to the Momentum Facebook page Tuesday, April 28th at 1pm EDT.and get more info HERE!

May your Shabbat be peaceful, safe, and healthy.

On April 27, watch the live ceremony of Yom HaZikaron (7:50 a.m. Israel time, 11:50 a.m CDT) go here https://www.facebook.com/events/600746657379306/

AND on April 28,  (7:50 a.m. Israel time, 11:50 a.m CDT), watch Lori Palatnik, founding director of Momentum, light the torch of Diaspora at the live ceremony here https://www.facebook.com/momentumunlimitedofficial/posts/10159823348269498

Me with Lori Palatnik, Momentum Founding Director, in Tzvat, 2013