The week following Yom HaShoah, we celebrated two of the most opposite holidays back to back, Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day).
We began on Tuesday with a tour of Yad Vashem andMt.Herzlwith Career Israel. This was my first time visiting Yad Vashem, and it was an experience. Even the layout of the museum pays tribute to victims. The museum is laid out so that it is impossible to go straight through, because, like in the Holocaust, there was no easy way out.
The most moving exhibit that I went through was the Children’s Memorial. It is completely dark, except 5 candles that are reflected off of thousands of mirrors, so it seems like hundreds of candles, representing the children’s universes that were lost far too soon. We then walked up to Mt. Herzl, Israel’s National Cemetery. The walk up to the cemetery symbolizes the rise from the Holocaust to the creation of the Jewish State.
Mt. Herzl is home to members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) who fall in service, as well as prominent Israeli, Jewish and Zionist leaders. As we were walking through the cemetery, it struck me that because all Israelis serve in the IDF, it is likely that every citizen knows someone who is buried atMt.Herzl. The cemetery is absolutely gorgeous, and pays a beautiful tribute to every person who died fighting forIsrael.
Since Tuesday evening marked the beginning of Yom HaZikaron, we went to a Masa Remembrance event in Latrun that evening. The event included stories of a few fallen soldiers and terror victims, as well as songs and writings by both the victims and members of their families.
The program was a lot to take in after an already heavy day, but it is important to take the time to remember those lost in battle and terror attacks. I felt an incredible connection to the soldiers and their families.
There was another moment of silence on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. This time, I was in the shuk with Oriel. The shuk is a boisterous place, and at 11 a.m., the entire market went silent and still.
Then, similar to Yom HaShoah, once the siren stopped, business continued.