featured title image: Eli Shiri
We all are one
Today is Israel’s national Memorial Day, Yom HaZikaron. Since its foundation in 1948, the young state of Israel has lamented 23,447 fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks. It is immediately followed by Independence Day, which starts tonight at 8 pm. This temporal proximity has always struck me as problematic. From tears to firecrackers and fireworks. The reason for this? Because the soldiers have given their lives for the existence of the jewish state. It is this unity of sacrifice and being that is supposed to be emphasized. I understand the reasoning but find it difficult to make the switch. From mourning to celebrating.
Tel Aviv holds its breath
Earlier today, my children, dressed in white T-shirts and dark jeans, set off for the memorial service at their school. At 11 am, a siren once again brought the country to a two-minute standstill. I was just about to go and get a coffee at Castel kiosk. Within seconds, people stop, drop their heads, stay put. Like on Shoah Remembrance Day. A bus stops abruptly, an ambulance brakes. Two dogs are howling, frightened by the siren. A baby cries in its mother’s arms. Otherwise, there’s nothing to be heard but the sound of the siren. Everyone in Israel knows someone who has lost a loved one during war or a terrorist attack. It’s no anonymous Memorial Day, it’s our life.
Faces come to mind
Instantaneously, Inbar comes to my mind, that pretty girl who got killed in the Dizengoff Center suicide bombing attack in 1996. I made a documentary about the background of the attack for German television in 1997, together with my friend and co-writer Sharon Mehler. In doing so, we followed Inbar’s family. Her parents, sister and brother. Every year on this day, her image is the first thing that flashes through my mind. Followed by faces and stories I saw on TV yesterday.
I think of the parents of Ron’s Torah teacher, who is currently preparing him for Bar Mitzvah. That young man who radiates so much positive energy and vitality lost both his father and mother in a terrorist attack. As the eldest child, he took on the role of parent for his seven siblings. I think of the son of writer David Grossmann, killed in action during the Second Lebanon War. Of all those handsome, brave young men, who were virtually still children. From all social strata and ethnic milieus. I think about how emotional life in Israel is. How open the wounds. The sad songs on the radio, the melancholic melodies with the profound lyrics. I think about how close my heart has grown to this country.
From mourning to celebrating
I would never have imagined hanging a flag out of a window someday – quite remarkable. That’s what the children want and by now, I’m happy to go along with it on Independence Day. That’s why the Star of David’s flying between spring-flowers on our balcony. The whole city is decorated in blue and white, the national colors. Hardly a car or a house without a flag. Festivities will start in a few hours. Then my children will go to Rabin Square with their friends, smuggling bottles of white foam past the security officials. Tel Aviv is going to celebrate tonight. Something Tel Avivians are good at and do with vehemence. With fireworks, alcohol, music and sticky white spray foam. Ivry Lider and Mooki are going to sing at Rabin Square. I’m not at all into partying with the masses and prefer to stay with our female dog Joya, since she’s frightened by fireworks and firecrackers.
Do you celebrate your Independence Day? Have you ever celebrated the day in Tel Aviv? Or are you actually here? Write about it in the comments section…