I’ll get right to the point: Every Jew needs to see this movie.
This Yom Kippur marks 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, when Israel lost 2,656 brave soldiers plus had over 9,000 wounded. If not for Hashem’s help – guiding the hands of some incredible heroes – the outcome would have been far worse. During the war, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan told Prime Minister Golda Meir the famous words: “We are facing the destruction of the Third Temple.” The fact that this Yom Kippur – 5784 – we will pray to Hashem in a beautiful, quiet and Jewish Eretz Yisrael is nothing short of a miracle.
The movie starts just before the beginning of the war and takes you through the tense and tragic days. It is not an enjoyable movie but an important one, because you begin to understand the harrowing and frightening moments that Israel went through. You feel the stress of the leadership, the deep concern of the IDF, and the pain of parents who saw their sons leave shul – on the holiest day – to head straight for the battlefield. Yes, the movie had some scenes made for Hollywood purposes, but that didn’t bother me. The overwhelming majority of the movie was factually accurate and very real.
In my opening sentence, I wrote that “every Jew needs to see this movie,” and I wasn’t kidding. It makes you appreciate what we have today. Too often, we tend to take things for granted: the growing country, the vast amount of Torah learning, the endless building, the beautiful parks, the happy families, the new settlements, the medical breakthroughs… yet all these achievements almost became an unfulfilled dream back in 1973. The Golda movie shows – very clearly – how close we were to losing the precious gift given to us by Hashem. Nothing is held back from the viewers, as we see the breakdown of Moshe Dayan, the panic attacks of chain-smoking Golda, and the serious error by Eli Ze’ira, head of Israel’s military intelligence, at that time. We see the Agranat Commission at work in their state inquiry, and we are given information only recently released by documents that had been classified for close to five decades.
It’s a tough movie to watch because mistakes were made, which cost many Jewish lives. The movie intertwines scenes of the real Golda, Henry Kissinger, and the Israeli public with the actors playing those roles, which made the movie even more powerful than it already was. Even though I knew the outcome, I was nervous during the movie, and also sad and upset, because it pained me to see so many coffins draped with Israeli flags – especially since many of those could have been avoided.
A dear friend of mine was in the IAF (Israeli Air Force) at the time and flew many risky missions. He told me how his life was miraculously saved three times during the 19-day war and that he celebrates Yom Kippur as his “second birthday.” Being a veteran of the war, he saw the movie before it was released to the public (in a special showing to the Air Force) and, while he knew – and lived – the story, he agreed that people need to see it to understand, even a little bit, the challenges Israel faced during those frightening weeks.
The modern State of Israel is the greatest gift Hashem gave our people in the last 2,000 years, but if there’s one thing this movie pointed out, it’s this: If you don’t protect this gift, it can be taken away.
May Hashem give our leaders the wisdom to understand what’s right and the courage to act upon it.
Am Yisrael Chai!