Parashat Bamidbar Torah Reading: Numbers 1:1-4:20
Over the course of time, Memorial Day Weekend has come to signal the beginning of the summer season here in the United States. Rhode Islanders will, no doubt, be heading for the beaches, hitting the sales, breaking out the barbecue grills. It's a weekend many look forward to.
I would like to take a moment, as this weekend begins, to Memorialize. My children, as many of you know, served in the Israel Defence Forces. As a baby boomer growing up in New Jersey, I don't think it ever occurred to me that I would be the mother of soldiers. I became the proud mother of soldiers.
In Israel, Yom HaZikaron / Israel's Memorial Day is a solemn day. The entire country pauses at the sound of a siren in the morning, to remember those who gave their lives to secure the existence and continued security of the State and citizens of Israel.
We here in the United States owe those who fell in the course of duty establishing and defending the security of the United States that same solemnity. Whether we agree with the political decisions that send our troops into harm's way is irrelevant. That they served our country with pride and honor and never came back to enjoy a summer barbecue with their loved ones is very much relevant.
In this spirit, I am proud to share with you a prayer composed by Rabbi Gerald Skolnik, a colleague of mine in the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly:
A PRAYER FOR AMERICA'S MILITARY PERSONNEL
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik The Forest Hills Jewish Center
Ribbono Shel Olam!
Sovereign of the Universe!
We invoke your blessings upon the members of our American military forces, those brave men and women whose courage and commitment to that for which this country stands protects us all.
Whether by air, land or sea, in the mountains of Afghanistan, the cities and deserts of Iraq, or wherever their orders take them, we ask, dear God, that they be protected within your sheltering presence.Shield them from harm and from pain, assuage their loneliness, and sustain their faith in the face of the formidable enemies that they confront on a daily basis.
May all of their efforts be crowned with victory, and the assurance that we who depend on their courage appreciate and understand the great difficulty of their work.
Most of all, we pray what for all soldiers is the ultimate prayer- that they be privileged to return to the loving arms of their families and a grateful country safely, speedily, and in good health.Because of their courage, may we all be privileged to know and savor the blessings of true peace and security.
Rabbi Amy Levin
has been Torat Yisrael's rabbi since the summer of 2004 and serves as President of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island.