From Sorrow to Celebration
13th of April 2021
1st Iyar 5781
יוֹם הזִּכָּרוֹן לַחֲלָלֵי מַעֲרָכוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וּלְנִפְגְעֵי פְּעוּלוֹת הָאֵיבָה
‘Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism
It is said that Israelis understand how to mourn better than any other country. It isn’t the sense of deep mourning for those lost in fighting an enemy whose hatred is stronger than their desire for a fruitful life. We mourn those who died, soldiers and victims of terror, from tonight at dusk until tomorrow at nightfall when we celebrate the birth of our nation in a truly spectacular manner.
The juxtaposition of mourning and celebration seems anathema to the outside but an emotionally essential part of the Israeli determination to survive.
Memorial candles are lit in homes, army camps, schools, synagogues, and public places, and flags are lowered to half mast.
Tonight at 20:00 precisely, the siren will wail its mournful message throughout this nation, the eerie sound falling on a silent people who pay tribute to those who fell so that we could live. Jews, Circassians, Druze, Bedouin, Christians, Moslems all fought and fell for the State of Israel and Jews, Circassians, Druze, Bedouin, Christians and Moslems lost their lives to terror.
Gentle music plays on all stations of both the television and radio and the names of each and every one of the fallen is read aloud. Tonight and tomorrow the families of the fallen visit the graves of their loved ones in military cemeteries led by senior officers in the IDF and an Israeli flag is placed on every single grave.
Tomorrow, at precisely 11:00 the siren will flood the country as if with the keening of mothers for their sons and fathers for their daughters as everyone stands to attention, heads bowed, whether at work or walking in the street; on a bus, driving, at home or in town, everyone stands, heads bowed in gratitude, sadness and respect for the two minutes of the siren.
Ceremonies take place all over the country, each religion following their own traditions. The Haredi Jews say Tehilim or Psalms in memory of those who died, most standing in silence together with us, the mourners of Zion.
The final ceremony takes place at nightfall, right next to the largest military cemetery on Mount Herzl where after the changing of the standard (flag) and guard, the music becomes upbeat, the flags come out, the fireworks and fun begin and the Independence Day celebrations begin. The sudden change from desolation to celebration is complete. Life continues and we, as Israelis, must celebrate life and not dwell on our loss. It has been suggested that we are a schizophrenic people, able to change so quickly, but that’s how we survive, that’s how we survived the Holocaust, by embracing life and determinedly looking forward and building a new future.
Thursday will be a day of beach, barbeques, picnics and discovering new aspects of this gorgeous country. Believe it or not while we will be enjoying glorious sunshine, many will be skiing on Mount Hermon!
For Zvi and I, the blue and white flag is flying over our wonderful view and every street light, whether in town, city or highway, sports an Israeli flag, proudly declaring that we not only survive but thrive! Our National Anthem is The Hope – HaTikva, which says so much more than anything else about Israel. We will continue to innovate, initiate, discover and create because we will always look forward, while remembering from whence we came. Israel is a homecoming, an ingathering of the dispersion, not created out of the flames of the Holocaust but a natural progression of an oppressed people finding freedom.
Lu Yehi was written by Nomi Shemer to honour those soldiers that fell in the Yom Kippur War. She wrote it after hearing the Beatles “Let It Be”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfMoeK6UVB0
If I were to choose a song which exemplifies Israel, it has to be Al Kol Eleh! Yes I know that you have heard it many times but it is THE song. Koolulam and Shlomi Shabbat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxzR9Z-kG6Q
Hatikva – The Hope sung by our young soldiers of the IDF
Translation of the Hatikva:
|As long as in the heart within,
The Jewish soul yearns,
And toward the eastern edges, onward,
An eye gazes toward Zion.
|Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope that is two-thousand years old,
To be a free nation in our land,
The Land of Zion, Jerusalem.
I wish you a good month, the new month of Iyar in the Hebrew year of 5,781. A good month and best of all
Happy 73rd birthday to the most beautiful lady in the world….Medinat Yisrael!!
With much love