Gets Me Every Time – Holocast Memorial DayMay 1, 2008
Let me preface this post by saying that I have been here for almost 7 years this time around, and I lived in Israel for 6 years as a kid. Even though I’m used to it, and even though it’s nothing new, and even though I always know it’s coming, it never fails to get me every time.
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, a day commemorating the 6 million Jews (and 6 million others, such as gays, mentally ill, Gypsies, etc.) who were ruthlessly exterminated by the Nazis in WW2.
On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day (last night), all businesses in the country are closed. EVERYTHING. No restaurants, no movie theaters, nothing. And I think it’s great. Sure, I would’ve liked to have my ballet class last night, but the fact the entire country shuts down in memory of those who were murdered to me is amazing.
During the day itself, which is today, businesses are open. But most places of work don’t play any music (i.e. malls and restaurants) and the radio only has very somber music. At 10 am, the most incredible thing happens.
A 2-minute country-wide siren goes off, and people stop whatever they’re doing for 2 minutes and stand up in memory of those who perished. When I say stop – I mean stop. Everything.
Every year, no matter what, I am always caught driving during these two minutes. It doesn’t matter when I leave the house, how I calculate the time I need to get to work, it never fails. And every year, no matter what, I am amazed by the unity of this country.
At 9:58 this morning, I was listening to the radio, and the DJ mentioned that in 2 minutes a siren would go off (as a reminder). Somewhere between 9:58 and 10, I was able to forget this was going to happen. As I was driving on the freeway, I suddenly saw literally dozens of cars lined up on the sides of the road, and quickly reminded myself to do the same. I parked 2 seconds before the siren went off.
I got out of the car and saw how other cars, that didn’t have the time to pull over, stopped dead in their tracks in the middle of the freeway. I mean, a 4 lane freeway with people in ALL lanes stopping and getting out of the car.
It’s very powerful, and it doesn’t matter how many times you see it.
Next Wednesday is Memorial Day. A 1 minute siren will sound on Tuesday evening, and another 1 minute siren will sound on Wednesday morning. Without a doubt, I will be caught on the freeway both times. And without a doubt, it will get to me again.
I love this country.