The soft, slightly melancholy music playing at my desk this week is from an album called “Shalom, Chaver: Goodbye, My Friend” a two disc set charity compilation of love and peace songs by Israel’s top artists in memory of Yitzak Rabin. It came out late in 1995 after Rabin’s assassination and I went looking for it again this week as the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s death has come upon us. The name was taken from President Bill Clinton’s famous farewell to Rabin which quickly found its way onto peace banners, bumper stickers, and posters all over Israel.
David Broza’s Yehiyeh Tov and Yair Rosenblum’s Shir Le Shalom, the words to which were found bloodied in Rabin’s pocket at the end of the rally at which he was shot, were and are the soundtrack of a nation and a people grieving for a leader and the hope for peace which he represented.
I’ve attached to the blog post a number of personal photos from the days and weeks following Rabin’s assassination. I haven’t shared them publicly before but am including them here as a visual narrative of November 5-6, 1995.
Following his assassination, Rabin’s body lay in state at the Knesset. The streets of Jerusalem were filled with mourners trying to make their way to the Knesset to pay their respects and to simply be together. Throughout the streets there were makeshift memorials with candles and homemade signs expressing the grief of a nation. This picture was taken at about midnight on Sunday November 5, 1995 outside the gates of the Knessest. The sign reads, “To the Rabin Family and to all the People Israel, We share in your pain at the death of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l.”
The next two photos are from Rabin’s funeral the following day. The first is Rabin’s simple casket escorted by army officers. It is a stark image that speaks to dignity and to many of the principles that govern our Jewish approach to death including equality, simplicity, and sacred sorrow. The second is from after the formal funeral procession. After the dignitaries in their limousines and the family and military had gone past all the onlookers joined in the mitzvah of halvayat ha met, escorting the dead, and walked towards the cemetery on Har Herzl.
The last photo was taken at Rabin’s burial place on Mount Herzl. It looks different today; today it has a permanent monument. But then, just a few short weeks after Rabin’s death, it was a plain as yet unmarked grave, covered with a mound of flowers. It was rainy and dark, contrast to the bright day of his burial.
Twenty years later we still say Shalom Chaver with a prayer that the peace that he desperately wanted will come to pass.
Yehi zichrono livrakha, may his memory be for a blessing.