Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yom Hazikaron - Memorial Day

Each year on the day before Israelis celebrate their independence a day is set aside to honor the memory of those who died in Israel's wars, in the underground forces which fought for our independence and civilians murdered by terrorists. 
At exactly 8 PM on that evening a siren is sounded and Israelis all over the country stop what they are doing and stand silently wherever they are. In every city there are ceremonies that begin a few minutes before the siren. But even those who are not there listening to the speeches participate in the memorial. Wherever we are, we stop and focus on the men and women who were killed because Jews returned to Eretz Israel and are building a state. 
At 11 AM the next morning the scene is repeated in the military cemeteries  and once again Israelis on the street, in their offices and shops devote a moment to reflect on what it takes to ensure that we can go about our daily lives in this country. 
The siren rips through our consciousness forcing introspection. For those moments there is no debate and no argument only unity, meditation and introspection. 
Some find this memorial inappropriate and ill timed. They say that going from the sadness of the memorial day to the celebration of Independence Day is too harsh a contrast. They don't like the sirens. 
I have heard the sirens compared to the call of the shofar. I like the analogy. The shofar was used in times of danger or war to rally the people and call them to action. In the month of Elul and on Rosh Hashana the shofar helps us take stock of ourselves and waken our desire repent and do better. I feel shofar as well as hear it and on those memorial days I have the same feeling when the siren sounds. On Rosh Hashana it is between me as an individual and God. On the memorial days there is an element of unity and common destiny with Israel and our people. 
I have a friend who says that she doesn't like the transition from the mourning Yom Hazikaron (memorial day) to the celebrating on Yom Haatzmaut (independence day). I agree that it is not easy. But, I would rather have it this way than pretend that we can separate the two factors in our history. We did not achieve our independence without a price and we can not ignore that. By the same token we have to recognize the miracle of the State of Israel and the progress we have made over the past 62 years. So we need a day for mourning and remembering and a day for giving thanks and celebrating and we need to make the connection. That's life. 


afinkle221 said...

For more information about Shofar and other Holy Temple instruments, we have written extensively on the Shofar and have three websites

1) Shofar Sounders WebPage

2) Joint Effort with Michael Chusid, an expert Shofar sounder and commentator

3) Shofar WebPage

Batya said...

I consider the connection critical, very imporant. We must never forget.

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