Address by Rabbi Raymond Apple at the 2014 ANZAC Day commemoration at the Jewish graves, Commonwealth War Cemetery, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem.
Every Anzac Day we form a minyan here to say Kaddish for people who might otherwise be forgotten.
Dickens tells A Tale of Two Cities; we in Jerusalem tell a tale of two mountains, Har HaZeitim and Har HaTzofim.
Both are sacred sites – Har HaZeitim where there have been burials for generations; Har HaTzofim where wartime gibborim are laid to rest.
My own grandfather Betzalel Leib was buried on Har HaZeitim but was not allowed to remain undisturbed. When Jewish graves were desecrated between 1948 and 1967, his was amongst them. Later the family took steps, like many others, to restore his menuchah, though the area is still not too safe.
What links the cemeteries is their Hebrew name – beit hachayyim, “House of Life”.
At a cemetery we think of life, the life which the yesheinei afar lived and defended – and the eternal life which we pray God has granted them.
We ponder the life we ourselves lead in Eretz Hachayyim, the land of the living.
Is that land Israel, or life generally? Maybe both.
If we combine the two options we find an amazing thing – that in Israel, almost more than anywhere else on earth, people say they are happy with life.
More than enough problems, yes: but people are mostly ashrei yosh’vei veitecha.
The yesheinei afar tell us, “We died that you might have a satisfying life”.
O God, may it be Your will that our life be crowned with serenity and peace.
* Photo by Yigal Chamish http://www.yigalchamish.com