Monday, April 19, 2010

Israel Memorial Day Began Tonight

Yom Ha'Zikoron, Israel's Memorial Day, began tonight. It is immediately followed by Israel's Independence Day, Yom Ha'Atzmaut, which celebrates the creation of the third Jewish Commonwealth on the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar in 1948. It is no accident that Yom Ha'Shoah, commemorating the Holocaust, is exactly one week before Yom Ha'Zikoron.

The day commences with the solemn sounding of air raid sirens at 8:00PM throughout the country and again at 10:00 11:00AM. All traffic and work halts then as Israel remembers those killed in battle and those murdered by terrorists.

I had planned on being outside at 8:00, but as I was walking Spot earlier I heard music and walked toward it as others did in the gathering dark. I found myself in a small park by Mitzpe Ramon's only police station where about 160 chairs had been set up before a stage area. To my surprise I realized that a memorial service would soon take place.

Memorial service park in Mitzpe Ramon

Soon a crowd of about 500 people appeared as the 8:00 siren sounded and everyone stood in somber silence. The police had closed Route 40 at both ends of town, and no traffic would enter or leave for the next 45 minutes.

After the sounding of the sirens a military honour guard marched in to the sound of the drill sergeant calling Left-Left, Left-Right-Left, but in Hebrew. Coming to attention before the Israeli flag, they lowered it to half staff as a bugle sounded a mournful call. A family who recently lost a son came forward to light the memorial lamp which would burn for the next 24 hours watched over by a military guard detail that would change every hour.

A military honor guards watches over the memorial flame in Mitzpe Ramon

Israel has mandatory universal service, so each has his and her life literally on the line in defense of the country. This creates a great sense of unity and cohesiveness but also a sense of universal loss since there is hardly a family that does not know another family who has suffered a loss to war or terror.

Mitzpe Ramon has lost 13 soldiers in Israel's wars, and each name was displayed as someone said a little about their lives, some quite tearfully.

As the memorial service came to a close Kaddish was recited together with Kale Molai Ra'chamim. At the end all stood and sang the Hatikvah (The Hope), Israel's national anthem with sadness yet also with hope for the future...And Spot was the only dog there.

Spot observes the memorial service

-- Post From My iPhone

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails