From the second night of Passover, we begin counting up each night toward the holiday of Shavuot, defining the period known as the Counting of the Omer, or simply the Omer. Traditionally, this span of the calendar has a tone of mourning to it, though the exact origins of this are mysterious. In modern times, the Omer has become stocked with contemporary observances that will be difficult in this year of war.

The first of these is Yom HaShoah, the Jewish Memorial Day for the Holocaust. This falls less than a week after the end of Passover. The date was chosen by the Israeli government in the 1950s to represent the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which actually began and was most heavily fought during Passover, but without imposing a day of mourning during Passover itself.

It is interesting to note that in recent years, the UN has established its own Holocaust Memorial Day in January, to coincide with the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army. Israelis, for reasons of their own, prefer to remember the Holocaust through the prism of Jews fighting their destruction, of which the Ghetto Uprising is perhaps the most striking example. The UN, for reasons of its own, prefers to remember the Holocaust through the prism of Jews dependent for their survival on a regime slightly less antisemitic than the Third Reich. But, that’s a topic for another time.

This year, we will mark Yom HaShoah knowing just how much of the world still finds the mass murder of Jews to be less offensive than Jews fighting to defend themselves.

A week later comes a Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for her fallen, which include those who died in battle, and those murdered in acts of terror. Sadly, Israel has not known a single day at peace since her birth, and the Jewish community in the land has been the target of lethal terroristic violence since decades before the birth of the state.

This year, we will mark Yom HaZikaron knowing nearly 1,500 names have been added to the roll in 5784, with nearly 150 still captive (alive or dead) in Gaza. We also know that murder alone was not enough for our savage neighbors, who raped, tortured, and mutilated many of the dead and many of the captives, and continue to abuse those still in their control.

As Yom HaZikaron ends, Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, Israel’s Independence Day, begins. Only when the terrible sacrifices that have built and maintained the survival of Israel have been acknowledged do Israelis celebrate the miracle that is the State of Israel.

This year, we will celebrate Israel’s Independence Day knowing that in the United States, our children may not be welcome to attend their college classes in person. Knowing that in the UK, some parts of London may be off limits to those who are “openly Jewish.” This year we are reminded why every Jew everywhere in the world needs a strong and safe State of Israel.

Not to give short shrift to Pesach Sheni and Lag Ba’Omer, both minor occasions on the traditional calendar, but about three weeks after Yom Ha’Atzma’ut comes Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Reunification Day, anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. This day is somewhat controversial, as the lightning victories of June 1967 did not lead to swift peace, instead leaving Israel ruling over hostile populations in Gaza and the West Bank which can neither be peacefully absorbed nor safely separated from. This is a problem. Even so, the counter-historical alternative is clear. Without the Golan Heights and the Sinai Desert to absorb the enemy offensives in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the State of Israel would have been destroyed. The demilitarization of Sinai is also what made peace with Egypt possible in 1979.

This year, we can hope that Yom Yerushalayim will find Hamas rule over Gaza broken, and that this will open the door for a new Palestinian leadership that will turn its creativity to making its people’s lives better rather than barbaric new ways to murder the neighbors.