Israel goes through an intense week late in April.
Three important dates are placed almost one after another, for the Israeli people to honor.
The first one marks the ending of something inexplicably horrible, and the necessity to remember.
The second stands for the mourning of the seemingly never ending battle that comes with the territory. Literally.
The third begins a period of utmost euphoria in the biggest celebration around the country.
Yom HaShoah was heartbreaking. If you didn’t feel your chest being crushed and your heart sink into your stomach you had to have been under a rock. The entire country has huge ceremonies at all hours of the day where people sing, read diary entries, and express their sincere sadness and disgust at the happenings of the Holocaust. At the ceremony here at the International School, two of my friends participated in it. One choreographed and performed a dance, and the other told of her grandfather’s experience having survived the Nazi regime. I called my father that day when I realized I was too empty and sad to cry. I called him and asked him quite simply as a child would: “Why do they hate us dad?” As if such a question even makes sense. “Why did they do this to us- what was it that they hated so much that they decided to methodically exterminate us?!”
As always, for questions these large and impossible, my father couldn’t give a very solid answer. He told me it was terrible. That there is nothing we can do about it now except remember. It’s up to us to ensure it never happens again.
The next was Yom HaZikaron. It’s the day of remembering all of the fallen soldiers in the busy history of the Jewish State. It is a day of mourning for Israelis, because literally everyone- EVERYONE- knows someone close to them that was killed in one of the wars. There was another ceremony, this time at the Kotel. President Shimon Perez spoke, and at the end everyone joined in HaTikvah. It was incredible.
Then. At the end of Yom HaZikaron, the insanity begins. It’s literally insane. The Israelis come out of their mourning in order to celebrate Yom HaAtzmeut- independence day. If there is any nation that should be awarded for their pride in country, it should be the Israelis. They’re not just happy about the fact that they are their own country, they’re ecstatic. Jubilant. Absolutely insanely happy. And it’s nothing less than beautiful. Live music everywhere, shaving cream, silly string, dancing, flags EVERYWHERE. It’s the best experience one could ask for. We stayed out until morning, watching everyone being silly, proud, and happy. On July 4th everyone says ‘Happy birthday America,’ and people grill out and sometimes we see fireworks. On Yom HaAtzmeut, it could not be a more obvious and out of control celebration. It’s such a different atmosphere, seeing everyone so clearly and purely thrilled to just be there. Just to be there.