Monday, April 27, 2009

One minute for a lifetime

Here in Israel, Yom HaZikaron - Memorial Day - takes on special meaning. When nearly everyone has served in the Israel Defence Force (IDF), when nearly everyone knows someone who has died defending this Land, when nearly everyone knows, or is related to, someone who has died as a result of attacks on our country, observing a minute of silence in the evening, and two during the day is a small offering nearly everyone is willing to give.

Tonight I experienced my first Yom HaZikaron for Israel's fallen soldiers. I've watched the videos on YouTube many times of how people rise to their feet and stop what they are doing. How cars come to a stop on the roads, and drivers get out and stand by their open doors. Tonight, as I stood in my window, listening for the siren, I watched as car after car pulled over, anticipating. As I stood listening to the sirens in my town, in the next town, in the town after that, it occurred to me that I wasn't watching the cars on a video, I was standing with them, honouring my soldiers, my fallen, my country.

As compared to Memorial Day in the US, the music on the radio is somber, the restaurants are closed, there are speeches and songs and events commemorating the fallen. It's a sober event, not a celebratory one. But in true Jewish fashion, after remembering and honouring, we then celebrate on Yom HaAzma'ut. But we'll discuss that later.

Right now - may their memory be for a blessing.

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