As the days grew closer flags began to sprout up all across the country. From highways to car windows to apartment porches- it was as if someone had sprinkled blue and white from above. Yom Hazikaron, the day we remember Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror, starts at the same exact moment across the country with a siren. (Jewish Holidays,Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Hatzmaut included start at night and continue into the day).
During the day there is an another siren that rings out, a moment of silence with which we begin to reflect and remember the 23,544 lives that have been lost. Each life leaving behind parents, siblings, loved ones, and friends.
This year I spent the morning at Har Herzel– the military cemetery in Jerusalem. Thousands of peopl were at Har Herzel on Yom HaZikaron, some to visit loved ones they had lost, and others to pay respect to the people who gave their lives protecting the country. When the siren went off at Har Herzel, you could hear the silence across the whole country; no one moved, and no one spoke. Yom Hazikaron affects every single Israeli has either experiencee personal loss or second hand loss.
As Yom Hazikaron ends, Yom Hatzmaut– Israel Independence Day, begins. We celebrate the country we have, the country that the fallen have sacrificed their lives for. Yom Hatzmaut is entirely about celebration. From Monday evening until Tuesday people are celebrating nonstop. At night, the streets of cities are packed with people dancing, and celebrating. In communities everywhere there are performances, fireworks, and festivity wherever you go. I saw fireworks light up the sky, walked around Jerusalem, and was even invited to a strangers barbeque. On Yom Hatzmaut the entire country shuts down, and people spend their days with family. All of the parks and beaches are packed with families barequing, and playing sports.
These two days are about the unity of the Jewish people, and the country. For me, being in the country at this time made me feel even more like I am part of a family.
By: Anna Kaplan