Tuesday, April 25, 2023

A Day of Mourning, A Day of Celebration

(Trigger warning, siren begins at 00:46)

Yom haZikaron (Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror) in Israel has a very small town feel to it. It's not about sales at the malls, the inconvenience of banks and government offices being closed, or a day off from school. As a matter of fact, other than offices being closed, Israel does things very differently than in the US.

Malls and supermarkets and other retail stores will generally close early. Theaters, restaurants, and bars are closed. School is early dismissal and chances are there were assemblies for part of the day. There are ceremonies everywhere. People really feel the day. And then there are the sirens.

The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, so holidays and observances begin at sundown and end at sundown the next day. At 8PM, a siren sounds all over Israel, and everything and everyone stops. Traffic is at a standstill. Business transactions are halted. People walking come to a stop and people at home pause whatever it is they're doing to stand and reflect and pray and mourn. And then it is repeated at 11AM the next day.

During this 24-hour period, the radios play mournful music and the national TV station runs the names of each and every soldier who died protecting Israel. And it's not a fast scroll of the names and it's done in an hour. For 24 hours, one name after the other will appear on the screen, along with their date of birth and the date of their sacrifice.

And then, when the day of mourning is done... we celebrate the creation of the State of Israel. Fireworks and drone shows, speeches and DJs. And then the next day there are jet fly overs courtesy of the Air Force, and we get together with friends and family and have our mandatory BBQ.

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