By Rabbi Avi Berman, Executive Director of OU Israel
Tuesday was an extremely sad day for Klal Yisrael (People of Israel). It was a day on which I was among thousands of mourners who ascended to Har Hamenuchot (Mount of the Rested) for the joint funeral of our four holy brothers. Four Jews who were horrifically murdered while buying Shabbat food in Paris. Four Jews who came to Israel to be laid to rest in our holy soil. They were welcomed home not with a Nefesh B’Nefesh ceremony with music and IDF soldiers waving Israeli flags but to their own eulogies and the tears of their immediate families and Jewish brothers and sisters who came to pay their final respects.
As sad as it was to stand on Har Hamenuchot at noon on Tuesday and to participate in the funeral of four holy brothers, I left the funeral with a stronger understanding of what it means to be one nation and the importance of Medinat Yisrael (State of Israel) in the existence of our nation.
Typically, when a citizen of another country dies or is killed in a country other than his nationality, he is flown back to his country to be buried. Philippe, Yoav, Yohan and Francois-Michel were not Israeli citizens. But there was no question that the State of Israel would offer to fly them to Israel to be buried. There was no question that the Prime Minister of Israel, its Chief Rabbis, its President, the Mayor of its Capital, Opposition Leader, Ministers, Members of Knesset and thousands of ordinary loving fellow Jews would drop everything and come together at the funeral. I was one of those ordinary loving fellow Jews.
In light of the recent terrorism in France, Meyer Habib, a Jewish member of the French Parliament, said on Israeli Radio this week that Israel is the insurance policy for Jews worldwide and that historic catastrophes would not have happened if Israel would have existed then.
I want to believe that the State of Israel is much more than an insurance policy. I want to believe that it is our nurturing Homeland. The Land where our fathers and mothers lived and where your brothers and sisters currently live. This nurturing Homeland is what continues giving Jews worldwide the strength to stand up proudly and know that they belong.
As Jews we have many adversaries. Since the establishment of the State of Israel Jews throughout the world have had a security blanket. As much as they try to focus on positive aspects of living in Chutz La’aretz (Diaspora), they know that if God forbid there is a turn for the worse, they have the ability to go to Israel. They have the ability to constantly come home where their brothers and sisters await them. And I am one of them.