SUNDAY evening through Monday was Israel’s Yom Hazikaron, “Memorial Day.” I was already steeped in the intense spirit of this very Israeli experience. It’s hard to explain the emotional intensity of this day to non-Israelis who haven’t lived through it.
For 24 hours, Israel, as a country-family, grieves together. You see and feel the day in people’s eyes on the street.
It is not a day for sales or barbeques. Television entertainment is totally suspended for these 24 hours. Instead, the TV silently lists names of every single victim who has died for Israel.
Twice, a blaring siren, “the tzfirah,” is heard throughout the land. Once in the evening, in darkness, for one minute, and then the following morning, for two minutes. The entire country, wherever anyone may be, on a bus, driving on a highway, at the market or work, all stop, stand at attention, freezing in unison to remember those who have died, to show they have not been forgotten, to pay a collective moment’s gratitude and respect to those who fought and died as protection for us to be here.