This week marks another series of holidays and commemorations in Israel; from last Thursday's Yom Ha'Shoa (Holocaust Memorial Day) to today's Yom Ha'Zikaron (Israeli Memorial Day), and ending with Israeli Independence Day tomorrow.
Yom Ha'Shoa commemorates the millions of Jews who died in the Holocaust, as well as the acts of heroism that saved many others.
Yom Ha'Zikaron is a Memorial Day for soldiers who lost their lives in battle for the creation of the State of Israel, and for the soldiers who've died subsequently defending the State. Perhaps because much of the Israeli population has relatives or close friends who've died defending Israel, Yom Ha'Zikaron is widely observed throughout all sectors of Israel. Throughout the entire day, places of entertainment, restaurants, and shops are closed by law, unlike in America, in which Memorial Day is often used simply as an excuse for another sale. The radio and television stations play programs about Israel's wars and show programming that convey the somber mood of the day. The most widely recognized commemoration is an air raid siren that's played twice. All activity, including traffic, immediately ceases. People get out of their cars, even in the middle of otherwise busy highways, and stand in respect for the sacrifice of those who died. The first siren marks the beginning of Memorial Day and the second is sounded immediately prior to the public recitation of prayers in military cemeteries.
Tomorrow is Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, which is a celebration in honor of the founding of the State of Israel in May, 1948. It's marked with fireworks, dancing, and singing.
We are going to brave the crowds tomorrow and head down to Tel Aviv in the early morning to participate in the day-long celebrations. The roads are supposed to close by 8 am, so we'll have to leave by 7 am to drive down and find parking before we're stuck all day. There will be an air show, ships coming into port, and festivities up and down the pier. As we've always been in California during Independence day, it will be our first and last before we leave. I'm going to bring my camera and video camera, and will post highlights of our day tomorrow.