Yom Hazikaron: Baltimore Shinshin Ido Tsimchi Shares What it Means to Him


Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) is a special day in Israel. A day that cannot be described in words alone; you must be there to understand the feelings it evokes. On the radio, you can only hear songs in memory of the fallen soldiers and victims of terror, on the way to school you see kids wearing white shirts with Yizkor (remember) stickers on them, and shows about the fallen are streamed all day on TV.

On this day, the whole country stops to commemorate the fallen, those that we are here thanks to. Like all Israelis, this day is also special for my family–a family whose story is combined with grief and hope.

Our story begins 80 years ago, when Ya’akov and Amalia, two Holocaust survivors, met after the war, fell in love, and made Aliya to Israel together. They got married and had two kids, Miri and Chezi, and always said that their family is their victory over the Nazis.

When Chezi got older and finished high school, he was drafted to serve in an elite combat unit in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and later went on to university. During this time, he met Ornit, and the two of them got married and had a baby girl, named Noa. When Noa was almost one year old, in November of 1995, Chezi was called up for reserve military duty in the Gaza strip, from which, he never came back.

The years passed and Ornit met Moran, got married again and had three more children, me included.

This is the story of my family in a nutshell – a story of loss and memory, but at the same time, it is also a story of perseverance and hope, even in darkest times. And in my opinion, this is what the story of Israel is all about.

And just like us, there are 23,810 more stories. 23,810 stories of families who lost their loved ones. 23,810 stories of fallen soldiers who gave their life for this country and 23,810 stories that because of them we can celebrate our Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut) on the next day every year.

Each one of these stories is a whole world, and on this Yom Hazikaron, I encourage you to pick one story, one out of 23,810, and make the memory of that fallen soldier a living memory.

Each memory is another link in the commemorative chain that binds us all together and that we are all committed to.

Ido Tsimchi serves as one of eight Baltimore shinshinim, an 18-year-old Israeli emissary sent by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel to communities abroad for a year of service. The Macks Center for Jewish Education, the education arm of The Associated, oversees the Shinshinim Hub in Baltimore. The goal of the program is to educate people of all ages about Israel.

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