April 25, 2004

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in Israel – the day begins at sundown. Here, this day is still taken seriously. There are no Memorial Day sales – in fact, the stores and restaurants are closed – nobody goes to the beach, or does anything that might be considered celebratory. At 8:00 PM and 11:00 AM the air-raid sirens, which can be heard in every inhabited place, go off. Not the rising and falling sound that signifies an attack (the memory of this sound from the first Gulf War still makes me start, sometimes, when a motorcycle goes by), but a steady single-pitched sound. At this time, everybody in the country stops what they are doing and stands at attention – for one minute in the evening, and for two the next morning. Those who are driving stop their cars and get out. During this time, the whole country comes to a stop. The traffic lights change silently while traffic stands still. Along the highways, the shoulders are crowded with cars, their occupants standing silently beside them, while the normally crowded lanes are empty. When the sirens stop, everyone gets back to their lives.

Israel is a small country. While all Americans may be linked by five degrees of separation, in Israel it is one. Any two Israelis, if they try, can almost always find someone whom they know in common. If I tried, I could probably find a personal connection to all 21,781 Israelis who have died for their country. Instead, I will limit myself to listing those whom I knew personally, who have died in the current war.

Sarah Duker was the roommate of a friend of mine. She was one of the first casualties of the Oslo War. At the time they called her, “a victim of the peace”.

Matthew Eisenfeld was Sarah’s fiancĂ©.

Kobi Mandell was the son of my wife’s friend. The Mandells moved into my wife’s house after she married me.

Nissan Cohen was an employee of mine at Cleyal Ltd.

Ahuva Amergi was the daughter of my landlord. The contract I signed, which I still have in my desk, was written by her.

Rachel, Avishai, Zvika, and Neria Shabo were the daughter-in-law and grandchildren of my neighbor, two houses down from me.

Benjamin Blutstein was a student of a good friend of mine. I met him a few days before his death, at my friend’s memorial study-session for his father.

The following is a link to those who died in terror attacks in 2002, that I happened to come across.

Tomorrow is Independence Day. It too is a day that Israelis take seriously, while they celebrate. Most of us are not more than one generation removed from a time when six million Jews were murdered, and not one government in the world made it a priority to save them. A few years later, when a million Jews were stripped of their possessions and expelled from Arab countries, Israel was here to take them in.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at April 25, 2004 08:18 PM
Comments & Trackbacks

Sarah Duker was a friend of mine. We had a regular group who had lunch and played hearts together on Shabbat. She was a mensch; she was truly a wonderful, giving person committed to judaism, yiddishkeit, and Israel. Without exagerration, I can say that her loss dimishes the world (I never knew what people meant when they said that until she died). I miss her and often think of her.

Posted by: Bryan Bridges at August 1, 2004 12:26 AM Permalink

× Network: