Monday, April 27, 2009

A special note on erev Yom HaZikaron

A little over half an hour ago, a siren went off across the entire land of Israel. Everywhere, cars stopped, people sat or stood in silence. My friends and I paused our DVD and sat quietly until the last echos faded away. 

As some of you know, I've been feeling kind, lately. I want to come home. I am done with this semester, I am done with Israel for the time being. The culture is different from home, from anything familiar, and basically nothing here has been like I imagined it. Part of that is, of course, due to the fact that I'm away from my boyfriend for five months, which is a long time by anyone's standards. But there are so many other things I miss about America (my fam, my biffle, my bed, Target, Stop and Shop, etc), and sometimes lately I've been losing sight of how much I really have always wanted to be here, how much I've always been connected to this land and its people. 

But the Yom HaShoa (Holocaust rememberance day) and Yom HaZikaron (Rememberance day for fallen soldiers) sirens kind of bring me back. Can you imagine the entire country of America stopping at the same time? People taking a one-minute break from their day, stopping in their commute to work or back, being a minute late to pick the kid up from school? I didn't think so. But here, with very few exceptions (Palestinians, others who are not directly connected to this State or who don't believe in it), everybody is so, I don't really know how to put it. But there's just this unity of spirit that is unlike any other country in the world. Such fierce dedication to the preservation of the state, and such respect for the amazing army that makes it possible for me and for thousands of others to be here in this land, safe and sound. And on Wednesday, the entire country will party it up, much like Purim except with the sole purpose of celebrating that WE ARE HERE. We have made it another year, Israel still exists, we are strong, we are determined to stay. There will be picnics and fireworks and dancing in the streets. Just like the 4th of July, actually, except in America, it's just not quite the same. Nobody denies that America exists and has a right to (or at least I don't think they do). 

Days like this make me remember that yes, I love Israel. I believe in its utter right to exist, although I know that is a broad statement and does not encompass the many, MANY issues that I and many other have with HOW it exists and what it has done to other peoples who also have claims to this land. It should exist. Maybe not precisely as it is now, or has been in the past 61 years. But in some form or another...and I believe it will. Am Yisrael Chai, the People of Israel Live. 

I love this country, even though right now, I have come to realize that it is a vacation spot for me, a place to come for a few weeks, and that it is not a long-term home for now. It will always have a spot in my heart, and I hope to come back often in the coming years. But I am not like my friend Tammy, who plans to make aliyah next year and join the army. I need America too much, I want my children to grow up in a Western system of thinking, to have discipline and order and cleanliness and a really truly good education. Someday though, I may return to this, my second home, for good, when I am ready to go with the flow and relax. We'll see. 

Tomorrow, the sirens will go off again at 11am. I plan to be outside, near the street or on a bus, with my camera in hand and recording, so I can share with everyone how eerie, heartbreaking, breathtaking, and truly powerful it is. 


  1. omg. You are so lucky that you are in Israel right now. I soooo wish I was there. The connectedness is also also why I love Israel so much!!! Enjoy your last few weeks and I can't wait to see you!

  2. I recall being in a store one time at 11:11 on November 11, when somebody announced that it was 11:11. (It was long ago: I think I worked at that store and was working that day.) The entire place came to a sudden stop. People stood where they were, no cash registers rung, phones were ignored. The entire store stood silent for a minute.

    Very powerful.

  3. shainele, i miss you too! i am sitting in haymarket right now in northampton missing you and adrienne and feeling shitty for being such a horrible friend. and SO SO SO proud of you for reading my stuff and being open to other perspectives re. israel.

    so you are living off campus next year? im sorry it didnt work out with us for next year, but as you said, you wanna stick around post graduation, so we will always have time to be together.
    happy last month and xoxooxoxooxoxoxo!!!!!