A touching photograph of a boy hugging his father's grave is shared every Yom HaZikaron, the date when Israel honors soldiers who have died in war or people who have fallen victim to terrorism.
The photograph is not new: it was taken in 2012, when Lahav Cohen, then aged 4, first visited the grave of his father, IDF soldier Michael Cohen, who had died of cancer a few months earlier.
“It was the first time Lahav saw his father’s grave and it was hard for him to let go,” the boy’s mother, Pazit, tells the Times of Israel. “When he had the chance he got up on the grave and hugged his father.”
Although the photograph is not exactly of a soldier killed in war or terrorism, it manages to synthesize feelings that words cannot reach. It shows the missing that stays in those who remain alive and the great challenge that is to embrace stones when the father is no longer here.
Yom HaZikaron is the saddest day on the Israeli calendar, and each year adds more people among its honorees. This year, we remember 24,213 names – names, not numbers, because in Israel every victim matters.
It is no coincidence that Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, the day of independence, are followed by each other. In one day, the country stops in honor of its dead and, the next, celebrates Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948, with music, dancing and lots of joy in the streets.
We hope that a day will come when Lahav Cohen – now a 15-year-old boy – and all Israelis can live in peace and the world will understand that Israel needs, should and deserves to exist.