From Jerusalem a Week of Loss and Memorials

In Jerusalem, we have begun the annual roller coast emotional time of the YomsYom Shaoh, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom Ha’atzmaut going from mourning those lost in the Holocaust and fallen in Israel, followed by Independence Day.

This year after the October 7 Massacre with 132 hostages still held captive in Gaza by Hamas, mourning is more intense and personal, and celebrations more tempered to mark 76 years of independence.

The flags at the entrance of Har Herzl Military Cemetry were at half-mast as Yom Hashoah was to begin.

As usual, an honor guard stood for the official opening ceremony of Yom Hashoa at Yad Vashem.

The Israeli flag was lowered and the trumpet sounded as all stood for the televised program with 6 survivors, each honored to light a torch in memory of the 6 million murdered in the Holocaust.

Photographers were around to capture the moments as usual in the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza.

But I had already taken a photo earlier of what was new, the yellow chair symbolic of the hostages placed next to the seat of former President Reuven Rivlin in the row for dignitaries.

The crowd as usual extended well back in the plaza.

The torch lighters as usual stood in quiet and dignity waiting to be called upon to light the torch.

As their impressive stories were shared in videos, one for each survivor, I often wondered what they were thinking, standing there before hundreds of people with thousands more watching on TV.

The torches were lit, the President and Prime Minister spoke and the memorial ceremony by the Chief Rabbis went on as in the past, without interruptions.

This week the Israeli flags have been spotted popping up on cars as usual.

But not usual was the gathering before Yom HaZikaron at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Survivors of fallen soldiers were asked to share their stories with the President and his wife.

Sadly more babies and young children were in the audience that day than usual.

The next day a special showing of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Screams Before Silence” was shown. The hour-long video is available for free on YouTube. The retelling of the horrible events of sexual abuse on October 7 is done with respect toward the victims and should be mandatory viewing for all deniers.

The panel afterward included the director and others involved in the important production.

Outside, the Beit Hanasi back garden was being set up for Yom Haatzmaut’s annual ceremonies.

Flyover rehearsals were heard over the Jerusalem streets. Not everyone was pleased by the loud sounds of the planes, but they went so fast that I could not get a clear image. However, the sounds of cars honking in appreciation were evident after the first ones.

Cemetery in Gush with view of military graves

There are too many new graves this year, and the numbers go up too often, the number of 1,541 has changed again with five new soldiers killed in Gaza.

The posters for “LetThemGoNOW” and yellow ribbons increase daily.

But to end the week of memorials, well into the night, Eden Golan represented Israel well and with dignity in the Eurovision musical competition held this year in Sweden.

She showed that even by coming in fifth place one can truly shine as a winner. Under exceptional pressure from anti-Israel mobs, she performed with class and proudly held the Israel flag overhead.

We have a choice on Yom HaZikaron to be broken or proud, Eden has chosen to be proud.

New for Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom HaZikaron

“As long as in the heart, within,

A Jewish soul still yearns,

And onward, towards the ends of the east,

An eye still gazes toward Zion.

Our hope is not yet lost,

The hope of two thousand years,

To be a free people in our land,

The land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

On the eve of Yom Hazikaron,

On Israel’s Remembrance Day for Soldiers and Victims of Terror

flame for memorial days Israel

flames are placed high above on many buildings.

It is a Day to Remember  every year.

military grave

 the young lives lost in too many wars.

There will be 23,320 Israeli flags placed,

one for each of those graves in cemeteries

located throughout Israel.

This past year 116 people were added to the list.

 Year after year much is the same,

as the sadness of Yom Hazikaron,

 is then transformed at nightfall into the celebrations of

sign Israel birthday

Israeli Independence Day.

I love the flyovers.

Knesset building with four planes flying near

 Even the dress rehearsal of the planes

woman looking at sky

attracts attention.

But you have to be quick to get a great photo

view of Jerusalem with 4 planes in formation

 and this year a bird got in my way.

Flags and planes are not the only symbols,

as you can see from this large Star of David hanging on the Chord Bridge.

In Israel, and especially in Jerusalem,

where there are so many ceremonies,

it can be hard to decide which one to attend.

 Some are prayer services.

This new Koren Yom Haazma’ut Mahzor,

with over 900 pages

new Koren mahzor

is a far cry from the xeroxed pages that we

used to use for Yom Ha’azmaut services.

This quality volume not only has all the prayer services

with full English translation and explanations,

but also includes services for

Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day.

Included in the 248 pages of essays,

are both original writings and some English translations

 of works first published in Hebrew.

The essay “Six Knocks” by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik,

was written for Yom HaAtzmaut 1956,

but all you need to do is change some of the names

and it could have been written today.

This post began with the Koren translation of Hatikva.

It is difficult, even with photos,

to explain,

 year after year,

what happens in Israel on these holidays.

Perhaps this volume will help those in the Anglo world

to better understand the words of Hatikva.

Full disclosure,

I was pleased to see that so many people 

 I know were involved in preparation this book.

חג שמח