Today, we mourn the passing of EZL fighter and one of the shofar rebels at the Western Wall Plaza, Yaakov Sika Aharoni.
One of the most powerful moments during selichot (penitential prayers) at the Western Wall is the moment of shofar blowing. Thousands stand in silence as the piercing sound of the shofar changes something within us.
This special moment is not one to be taken for granted.
A little over seventy years ago, during the rule of the British Mandate in the Land of Israel, the British prohibited blowing the shofar at the Western Wall. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur passed in silence with the only sounds coming from the murmurs of the worshippers. Some youth, members of youth movements and underground fighters, decided to sound shofar blowing at the Western Wall. Despite the danger to themselves and the knowledge that this act is punishable by imprisonment and banishment, they snuck into the Western Wall Plaza, and as Yom Kippur ended, under the watchful eyes of the British, they blew their shofars.
They were immediately imprisoned, but for that brief moment, surrounded by a foreign ruler and enemies, they managed to add significance to the sacred day. The shofar rebellion continued from Yom Kippur following the riots of 1929 until the Jewish Quarter fell during the 1948 War of Independence.
After we retuned to Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, the sounds of shofar blowing returned as well, signaling our sovereignty and independence at the Western Wall Plaza.
Yaakov Sika Aharoni, who fought for the right to hear shofar blowing at the Western Wall, was privileged to witness the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
May his memory be a blessing.