Sunday, May 4, 2008

Public Commemoration

For most Israelis, the eight days between Yom Hashoah (commemorating the Holocaust), Yom Hazikaron (commemorating the fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks) and Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) are a charged period. For some more than for others, obviously, and for each of us in our own individual way, with our own particular emphases. Much of it, however, is communal, at least as much as private.

On the mornings of Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron sirens go off all across the land, and everyone stops whatever they're doing and stands at attention for the two minutes. I expect this isn't the case in the towns of the Israeli Arabs, and the Ultra orthodox (Haredim) dislike the gesture for its "non-Jewish" origins, but elsewhere, everyone goes along with the gesture, mostly sincerely, often with great earnestness. The two pictures here show how even motorized traffic halts, as the drivers get out of their vehicles - even in the middle of an intersection - and stand solemnly.
(Agrippa St. in Jerusalem, last Thursday, photos taken by Nava Silvera).

Of course, since we're a democracy, we obviously have our scoffers, and some of them inevitably get published, where they tell us that we're totalitarian bolshies who force unthinking conformity on ourselves; the fact that they get published underlining how unserious they are.

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