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    Battle of Beer-Sheva commemoration 2016

    Address by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple AO RFD at the World War I Battle of Beer Sheva commemoration, Park of the Australian Soldier, Beer Sheva, Monday, 30 October, 2016.

    ParkofAustSoldierOct14Every year when young Australians take part in Beer Sheva remembrance ceremonies they seem younger than the year before.

    The problem is not them but me. I am getting old, and when I meet young Australians in Israel I have to admit that it’s not them I know but their grandparents.

    Being old means that, thank God, I have lived through quite a lot of history.

    I was a child during World War II. It was the time of the Holocaust but I was in Australia and was shielded from events, and when teenage survivors came to Melbourne in the late 1940s I was amazed that they could still smile at the sun and sea.

    I was in Habonim when the State of Israel was declared and we sang songs of pride, Anu banu artzah liv’not ul’hibbanot bah.

    I lived (vicariously) through Israel’s wars, and still wonder why our assailants thought that fighting us was worthwhile.

    I spent years as a rabbi in the Golah until my wife and I finally followed our family and made Aliyah.

    Na’ar hayiti gam zakanti – “I was young and now I am old”, that’s what the Psalmist says, but he adds v’lo ra’iti tzaddik ne’ezav, “I’ve never seen a tzaddik forsaken”. Is he right?

    I call every Israeli a tzaddik. None has been forsaken; few have fled and forsaken the messianic destiny which lies ahead.

    That messianic destiny is grand and rhetorical. Look it up in the Biblical prophets.

    That destiny is also simple and uncomplicated. What symbolises it is children and grandchildren of all religions and peoples sitting together, smiling together, singing together, playing together, here in a park created by Australian philanthropy, or wherever it may be in the world.

    May the dream come true, and may we old people live to see the new era in the hands of the new generation. Shalom al Yisra’el!

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