My dear friends,
Tonight we will mark Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel (23,816) and Victims Of Terrorism (4166). Tomorrow, we will celebrate Israel’s 72nd Independence Day.
On Memorial Day (from sundown on April 27 to nightfall on April 28) Israelis will be banned from leaving their municipal boundaries. Families will be allowed to visit military cemeteries ahead of Memorial Day, in order to avoid a mass gathering at the graveyards on the day itself. With all the complexity of feelings, the families have said that they will comply, because their dear ones “in their death, they commanded us to live”
On Independence Day tomorrow, the country will enter a full lockdown from 5 pm until Wednesday 29 April at 8 pm. The traditional opening ceremony on Mount Herzl and the torch lighting (by a dozen Israeli citizens, who made a significant social contribution in a selected area of life – including medical staff and researchers, voluntary organizations, Tzipi Shavit, Idan Reichel) was pre-recorded without an audience (in compliance with restrictions) and will be broadcasted tomorrow evening. The traditional firework displays are permitted, but most municipalities have declined, preferring to use the funds towards to the many corona related services and initiatives they are providing for their residents and will need to do so for months to come.
Israel's 72st Independence Day will celebrate our society’s diversity and connection, and we will count our blessings and they are many. Never has it been more evident than in the past six “corona” weeks. Due to the restrictions, the “balcony culture” has blossomed again - individuals and families on their balconies joining their neighbours to pray, sing and just talk. It is a bit nostalgic because once women spoke to their neighbours every day from their kitchen windows, the children from their balconies. Many of Israel’s singers and entertainers have appeared on balconies or in gardens that are surrounded by multi-story houses to raise the morale and it is well appreciated.
My cousin Ronen Lazarov (born in Milan) lives in Jerusalem. One evening, he stood on his balcony and sang operatic arias for his neighbours. Passers by stopped to listen and applaud. The response was so intense that every evening at 6 pm, he gives a performance, in reply to requests that keep pouring into his postbox and Facebook.
This Independence Day more than ever, the balconies will be covered in our blue and white flags and will host the Independence barbeques that can’t be held in the parks.
We are also witnessing greater unity between our various communities. Everyone – Jew, Christian and Moslem are complying with all the Government restrictions. Soldiers of the IDF Home Front Command and other units have been tasked with providing “civil assistance” to residents of major hotspots of the corona virus that include ultra-orthodox and Arabic cities and towns, that are usually points of friction, but now, they are well received by the residents – who say that the virus does not differentiate between race or religion.
Voluntarism is also on an all-time high. In addition to our loyal WIZO members and other NGOS, many of the one million Israelis on furlough, have joined the national effort. We can only hope that this unity and cooperation will continue and help the Israeli society heal, while facing the many challenges, the post-corona period will impose,
Again, I would like to thank every one of you and all our WIZO members for your outstanding support at this time, while dealing with your own corona related problems. It is the essence of the WE in WIZO. Bless You. While watching the ceremony, I will light a virtual torch to applaud the WIZO movement and women worldwide for achievements, above and beyond – U LITIFERET MEDINAT ISRAEL – for the glory of Israel.
Please share this letter with all your members and friends.
Stay healthy, stay safe and stay home. We WILL prevail and meet again.
President, World WIZO