It’s my first full year living in Israel and I’ve had so many unique experiences. It’s a particularly special time of the year, while Israel is celebrating Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. I’ve heard about these national holidays and even celebrated them on a smaller scale from home in California. But this time it’s different. It feels more meaningful than ever. This time I really feel a part of something bigger.
Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Rememberance Day was emotional. I spent the day in Jerusalem with some friends and visited The Kotel. We had a zoom call with a beautiful woman named Shoshana who shared her experience in The Shoah and some heartbreaking stories. At 10 a.m. a siren could be heard throughout the country for 2 minutes commemorating all those who were lost. It was an intense and special thing to experience and witness, everyone around me stopping in place, standing still. The bustling in the shuk, the cars, those on their way to pray at the wall, stopped in their tracks. All to stand in silence and collectively share a moment together. From abroad we recognize this day, we have our own memorials in various ways, but to know everyone here is together at that moment experiencing the same thing is something amazing. I thought of Shoshana and the stories she shared.
Yom HaZikaron, the day we mourn and remember our fallen soldiers and all lives lost by terror. I had an opportunity to participate in Masa’s Memorial Ceremony. I held a wreath alongside Oryan Amsalem on behalf of The Jewish Federations of North America. I didn’t realize the significance until I was there, alongside those who lost someone close to them. It reminded me of the importance of sharing our lives with those we love most. And it was special to be around people who recognize and mourn for the people lost in this country.
Yom HaAtzmaut and Independence Day
Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day, is celebrated right after Memorial Day. It’s been a topic of conversation, how can we celebrate and party hours after we are mourning and grieving?
At first I was apprehensive, how can I be so happy right after we are acknowledging all the lives lost? We had a group day in Jerusalem and visited Mount Herzl, heard some stories and visited graves of many fallen soldiers. It was a heavy morning and many of us were emotional and crying for a while. We left and headed to our next destination, Machane Yehuda to have a silent disco dance party through the shuk. Dancing? Disco? Now, after all we just talked about?!
experience hardship and happiness
It felt strange at first but quickly our group joined in and began to feel light again, laughing and making fools of ourselves in front of strangers. What a day full of highs and lows.
In its irony, it made for a good point, the celebration following the grieving is a way to realize all we have to be grateful for. That life will and must go on and we can experience hardship and happiness, even simultaneously. And maybe it feels a little crazy to party hours after we cry but also life is crazy and that even to spend these holidays in Israel is an experience and honor on its own.
Your favorite Tel Aviv Fellows,