By: Max Fruchter
The sight of countless Israeli flags waving at the burial site within the Har Menuchot cemetery caught my eye well before I reached my destination. For the entire day, my mind focused solely on those four victims of terror who died so tragically and were soon going to be buried in one of the largest, most holy, cemeteries in Israel. Due to the large number of people set on attending the levaya, roads were closed off and left walking as the sole method of transportation. As such, I encountered an array of news reporters, grieving citizens, and preaching men along my route to the cemetery. Upon finally arriving at Har Menuchot, I attended a powerful levaya for the four Paris victims of terror.
Amidst the whispers exchanged and tefillot recited amongst the crowd, I quickly picked up on a large French presence. However, once the designated speakers mounted the podium to offer their remarks, the crowd of several thousand fell hushed. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s powerful voice began the procession as he addressed the need for Jewish solidarity in Israel and the world over. His words resonated deeply with everyone present as the only audible sounds were his voice echoing through the mic and the soft cries dispersed throughout.
Following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s passionate words, President Rivlin took over and continued in offering sincere compassion and words of comfort. Interestingly, his speech as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s called more for a need to unite Jews across the globe than I would have expected. Although the victims were spoken about quite emotionally, the President and Prime Minister made a noticeable effort to draw from this horrible tragedy and guide Jews accordingly; their words reflected a powerful call to embrace our fellow Jew and build in the face of destruction.
Towards the end of the procession, a French minister began his address. Although the meaning of his words remained enigmatic in definition, the emotional pitch audible in his voice told me everything I needed to know. In the twenty minutes or so that he spoke, I picked up on several distinct words that shared an almost identical structure with their English counterparts- “solidarity”, “Judaism”, “anti semetism”, “family”. As he concluded, the names of those murdered stuck out from his speech and aroused an even more poignant feeling of sadness, grief, and hope.
Before ending the formal addresses and beginning the actual burial process, an Israeli singer delivered a powerful Hatikvah in which everyone partook. English, Hebrew, and French accents were audible throughout but composed one harmonious voice of Jewish pride. I believe that the words of Hatikvah, which assert the irrepressible hope of every Jew for the establishment of Israel as a Homeland for us all, elevated the atmosphere for everyone present. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin effectively captured Hatikvah’s message and brought every Jew’s mindset toward strengthening themselves and their fellow Jews with kindness, sincerity, and love.