April 15, 2013

More holidays? More holidays!

I am constantly asking myself (and my boyfriend) "what holiday(s) is Israel observing this week?"
Cause, yeah, there are almost weekly holidays here.

Well, yesterday at sundown began Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day).
When that ends (at sundown today...sensing a pattern?) Yom Hatzma'ut (Independence Day) begins.
I love this time of year, because the holidays Israel observes are simultaneously somber and celebratory 
(Passover, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day).

What I love about these two days in particular is how meaningful and present these days are for the people of Israel as a collective, and the significance found in observing them side by side.
Yesterday, at 8pm, a siren rang out across the country (just like on Yom HaShoah), and again, the entire nation paused and remembered those 23,085 lives lost in service to the Jewish State. Another siren was heard this morning at 11am to mark the 'end' of the holiday.
Here's a video from this morning in Jerusalem. 

In such a tiny and new nation (only 65 years old today!)- not to mention one with such a bloody history- every Israeli knows someone who died in war. Memorial Day here is a somber day- television is filled with documentaries and special programming about individuals who died in battle, families telling of their sons and daughters whose lives were given so that a nation might live. 

Itzik asked me this morning "does America have a day like this?"
Sadly, no. For me, Memorial Day back home was only sad because I usually didn't have the day off of work. Only government employees and really lucky people got the day. Maybe there are some sales at the mall. But it's really more of an afterthought- a day imbued with half-significance. Also, the US is so big. You could go your whole life and not know one person who served in the military. People have lost touch with the fact that freedom comes at a price, a heavy price. And those who have paid it are all too easily forgotten.
But here in Israel, forgetting is not easily done. Nor should it be.

And then, Independence Day. This is truly a festive day.
Flags galore, roof parties, beaching, picnics (and alcohol)...

It is a lot like the 4th of July back home, but what I really love about Israel's Independence Day celebration is the fact that it comes IMMEDIATELY after Memorial Day.
Because in order to truly appreciate the freedom we have, we have to remember (and thank) those who fought for us to be free.

So, to Israel (my home away from home)
I wish you a very Happy 65th Birthday!
May you go from strength to strength. 
I'm proud to live here, and grateful you exist.

1 comment:

Maggy said...

hey I recognize that view :)