Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut

This is my first year being in Israel as an Olah, and as such, these 'national' holidays somehow take on more significance. I had a draft on Yom HaShoah, but as it has gone by, and we are on to the next national holiday, I figured my thoughts could go all together.

Yom HaShoah per say is one of those holidays that the religious public and the secular tend to disagree on. Rabbis have ruled that mourning is not such a good thing during the time of Nissan, and as such, we should have mourning for those victims of the Holocaust during other days set aside for mourning already, like the 10th of Tevet, and Tisha B'Av. There are Kinos and other liturgies written specifically commemorating those Kedoshim to be said on those days.

None the less, I still had something very positive to say on Yom HaShoah. In my workplace, they
had a gathering for all the students and employees, and presented a presentation on the Holocaust and its victims. Now, usually, these presentations take on a very secular perspective, as that is what resonates with most- not the religious stories most who live in the charedi world grow up hearing.

But the one thing that really did resonate with me was that despite being in an entirely secular environment, the first thing they did after the siren and moments of silence, was to read a Yizkor memorial prayer, commemorating those who died Al Kiddush Hashem, and to hope that their neshamos have an aliyah.

Now, that was something special that I noticed- an entirely secular group of people, recognizing that those who died because they were Jews died Al Kiddush Hashem- they actually mentioned G-d. And G-d in the Jewish sense- unlike many American gatherings where other religions might play a role, or no religion at all. Many Holocaust gatherings in America stress the genocide aspect, the killing of many different people, such as gypsies or the handicapped. Very few secular gatherings in America take any time to mention G-d at all, or that the souls of these people have not died in vain, for we remember them, and say a prayer for their memory.

When I came home, and remarked as such to Mr. NMF- he reminded me that the Teshuva movement in Israel is always growing. He believes it is much more prevalent than it was in times gone by.

As for Yom HaZikaron, another sad day here in Israel- I actually did not have a memorial service to attend, but most of my workplace did. I looked up how Yom HaZikaron started, and I found out that originally, the politicians (typically Jewish) couldn't agree on a date, so they lumped it together with Yom HaAtzmaut- which was hard for the people actually mourning to concentrate on the happiness of Independence. So, they moved it to one day earlier, the reason being to remind us all what the cost of independence truly is. Somber thought, but something worth remembering.

And today? I'm celebrating the independence day by being off from work, and enjoying the day with my daughter. That's true independence for me.

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