Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mourning and Memory: Yom Hashoah

Yesterday, April 28th, was Yom Hashoah here in Israel. The National Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust.

It started Sunday night, April 27th (In the Jewish calendar one day is from sundown to sundown).

My program was invited to attend the official State ceremony at Yad Vashem, where we listened to speeches by Bibi, President Peres, and the Speaker of Knesset, heard musical performances, and most importantly, heard the brief testimony of seven survivors, six of whom lit torches in honor of the 6 million.

The next day was a normal business day, but it didn't feel like one. At 10 AM a two-minute siren went off and we stood, silent, heads bowed, lost in thought as the sound pierced the entire country of Israel.

What did I think of? The same thing that struck me at the State ceremony...that we were mourning these people from Israel, our own state. And the beauty and importance of this country struck my heart.

We are still here. A whole nation remembering and honoring our lost, but strong, vibrant, bartering in the shuk and relaxing at the beach. Those people in unmarked graves with no family left to mourn them will forever be remembered and cried for by us.

And our lives, with all our joys and sorrows, are a testament to the failure of the hatred that snuffed them out.

It was a hard day. So hard that just writing a brief post about it on Facebook brought me to tears multiple times. The pain that our people suffered, the memories that survivors live with every day, I usually push it aside. I couldn't function with that sorrow every day. But yesterday I faced it, I let it wash over me because that sorrow is part of who I am, is part of the Jewish people. It's a sorrow that pushes us forward, to be strong and brilliant, to empathize and to help whenever we can.

I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world yesterday.

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