My Busy Yom HaZikaron

My Busy Yom HaZikaron

Last year, on Israel’s Independence Day, we made a barbecue for a delegation of widows and orphans of fallen US servicemen. The IDF had invited them as guests of honor to experience first hand Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut.

Over hamburgers, I spoke with the American army widows and heard their heartbreaking stories, and my kids talked and played with their children.
At one point, I overheard my 17-year-old asking a 16-year-old girl from Montana whose father had been killed in a military helicopter crash if there is Yom HaZikaron in America.
“Sort of,” she answered, with a shrug and pained expression: “we have Memorial Day, but it’s nothing like in Israel. Here the whole country does Yom HaZikaron together. In America the only people who care about Memorial Day are people in the Army or people like us who had a father that died. For most Americans Memorial Day is mostly just about sales and a long holiday weekend.”
This Yom HaZikaron, like many people here, I’m attending several Yom HaZikaron ceremonies. This afternoon my 12-year-old daughter and her neighborhood girls’ group organized the annual ceremony for the 9 men from our small street who were killed in the IDF and a terror attack since the War of Independence in 1948.
Then tomorrow I’m going to visit my 21-year-old daughter at Mt. Herzl as she stands by the grave of a soldier who was killed in the 6 Day War. Every single fallen soldier buried anywhere in Israel is honored by the presence of a soldier currently serving in the IDF during the Yom HaZikaron siren.
And then, tomorrow, I will rush to a different neighborhood to see my 10-year-old son performing daglanut, marching with an Israeli flag, at his school’s ceremony honoring the school’s fallen graduates and the current students’ fallen relatives.
At today’s memorial service on our street, which was once left-wing secular and over recent decades has become right-wing religious, participants spanned the political spectrum. A week ago, for example, the grandchild of a fallen soldier from the Yom Kippur Was was probably at a demonstration decrying Judicial Reform, and a current resident whose son was killed in Hebron in 2003 was at a demonstration in support of Judicial reform.
But on Yom HaZikaron, we all stand together. Mourning fills the air. Like sand during a sand storm.
Not only because nearly every Jewish Israeli has been a soldier or known a soldier or someone killed in the IDF or in a terror attack. But because, despite our vocal differences, deep down we are sisters and brothers. And like sisters and brothers, we fight. But we also care about each other deeply. Even, when necessary, more than life itself.

One comment

  1. I remember memorial day the US just being a day off full of shopping sales.
    It is unfortunate.
    May it never be like that in Eretz Yisrael.

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