Wednesday, April 22, 2015

From Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut

It begins with sobering remembrance. Each year it's different as to how I observe these days..Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron...and finally Yom HaAtzmaut. Always, though, at some point, I am moved to tears. So much to contemplate. One sets the mood for the other.

On Yom HaShoah and first siren on Yom HaZikaron, I was at home, firstly on my mirpeset, and last night, on the street in front of my building when the sirens bade us to stop and remember.  Last night, there wasn't a lot of traffic on my usually busy street. I had hoped for more, to experience once again, the oneness of Am Yisrael, as together we stop, get out of our cars, buses, and remember. For personal reasons, I wasn't able to go to a tekes this year, and this would have to serve as a quiet personal reflection for now.

Even though I know it happens, I've experienced this before, but I'm always shocked, and it always takes me aback. In the midst of the siren, a taxi gunned it down the street at high speed, making sure everyone noticed HE wasn't stopping. Obviously the taxi driver didn't approve, flipping us the bird in the most obnoxious way he could.

On Yom HaShoah last week, I read of an arab bus driver who refused to stop his bus, taking all the people hostage who tried to no avail to stop him.

Today, as we approached the time for the 2nd Yom HaZikaron siren, I too was on a bus, on my way to the shuk. I noted that my driver was Jewish, comforting myself with the fact I wouldn't have to run to the front, grab the steering wheel and find the brakes when the siren went off.

Still I was unprepared.

When the siren went off, the driver stopped, opened the doors of the bus, and those who wanted to exit and stand outside on the street, did so, the rest of us stayed standing in the bus. Mid-siren my submerged emotions began to surface and I felt the tears start.  Suddenly to my left, speeding across the street were several yellow arab sheruts, joined in spirit by a motorcyclist who tried to keep moving but was blocked by cars. Tossing his head and giving verbal smart a**ed remarks to those who would bid him stop, he wanted to make his point. I turned my head towards the Walls of the Old City and the tears just streamed down my face. It wasn't just the loss of our boys, although that was strong enough. It was also, the continual, ongoing struggle of the in-your-face hatred we feel and experience every day that I mourned. It wasn't that it's too difficult, it's just ...I don't know....such a loss. It filled me with such sadness that belligerence, hatred and violence is so strong....that the battle is way far from over, in fact, unchanged and I felt the eternity of the struggle.

I cried quietly for 3 or 4 minutes. Our lovely driver was slow to turn on the engine again, waited for the next light, thoughtful and reflective as were the rest of the people on the bus. It's a sobering moment that deserves our respectful attention. I was so glad that I was on that particular bus.

It was then I realized where we were. I mean I knew in real time of course, but was not even thinking of the powerful symbolism until that moment. We could not have been at a more meaningful place. We were at the top of Shlomo HaMelekh in front of Kikar Tzahal.  (Tzahal is our IDF). It is the location where the Ottman Empire surrendered to Allenby in 1917, the dividing line between our newly formed IDF and the Jordanian troops in 1948; it was the 1949 Armistice Line between Israel and "No Man's Land" , and is the symbolic seam between Jews and Arabs since the 1967 Victory and reunification of Jerusalem.

It seems - and not the first time for me - I was feeling more than the moment. I was feeling the angst of our People and the history of the very rocks that were crying and crying out.

With some difficulty we recognize it is now time to move into Yom HaAtzmaut. We have our set time for mourning and now it's our set time for rejoicing. As we move into tomorrow, let us celebrate not only with fireworks and mangal, but also with thankfulness that we are here. Just because it is such a's important that we understand the outcome.

Israel, a sweet Land, filled with milk and honey, is ours once again.

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