Last week was Holocaust remembrance day and I am remiss to not have added this post sooner. Passover this year was a very hectic period and now I must hunker down and make up for lost time.
In honor of Yom Ha’Shoah, I found an old blog post written shortly after moving to Israel from San Francisco. This was written on May 1st, 2008 but is still very relevant to the collective Israeli experience. I hope you enjoy my past musings.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day the whole country takes pause to remember the 6 million lost. There were ceremonies all over the country, at Universities, at high schools, and in all the cities and Moshavim. I have been rather detached from it all this year. I knew that it was today but I seemed to miss everything that comes with it.
This morning I woke up at about 9:45, tired and thinking about how my day is going to pan out. I get my yogurt and tea from the kitchen and sit down to check my e-mail. I barely get into the first e-mail when a siren goes off. Of course, it’s Yom Hashoah and a siren goes off at 10. This is something that Israel does for Yom HaShoah v’Gevura and Yom HaZikaron which will come next week. This siren is two minutes long and is sounded throughout the country.
It is an amazing thing to see the whole country stop for two minutes. I walked out to my balcony to see people stopped both on Frishman and Mapu (the Tel Aviv streets visible from my apartment). People walking will pause for the duration of the siren. People driving, regardless of location, will stop their vehicles and get out to observe the nationwide moment of silence. Last year I was on the freeway between Rishon and Tel Aviv when the siren went off. The bus pulled to the side of the road and everyone stood up with their heads down. Outside I saw drivers also pulled to the side of the road, standing with their heads bowed.
These two days affect the whole country. Everyone becomes solemn remembering those we’ve lost. It is on these days more than any other, that I feel the community that I was born into. It reminds me why I came here and it reminds me why I would never have wanted any other upbringing, despite my many requests for a Chanukah bush when I was little.
Though a solemn occasion, to spend Yom Ha’Shoah or Yom Ha’Zicharon (Memorial Day) in Israel is a powerful and memorable experience that I would recommend to anyone. There is of course the added bonus of Independence day immediately following Memorial day in which the entire country, having spent the previous 24 hours in mourning, breaks out in celebration. More on that later this week!