Friday, April 27, 2012

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut 5772

How can I express my emotions on 2 of the most emotional days for me since I have made aliyah?
Living in Israel has always been on the forefront of my mind, ever since my first trip here, when I was 18.  It was always a dream that I planned for in all aspects of my life.  When that dream finally came true, I was overcome with gratitude to Hashem for allowing me to finally be living my life in our holy land.
Since I have arrived, I have been blessed with so many wonderful things and I really feel like Hashem is guiding my every step and allowing me to live life the fullest here in Eretz Yisrael.
I know I haven’t been blogging so much, but thank G-d life is busy! 
Pesach was truly wonderful and I should definitely write a post about that, but for today, the past 2 days are fresh in my mind.

Yom Hazikaron is always the day before Yom Ha’atzmaut.  It is the day we remember all the fallensoldiers and civilians, who have died for our country.  It’s a very sad and emotional day, as almost everyone in Israel has lost a family member or a close friend in a war or terrorist attack.
The commemorations start the evening before, like all Jewish Holidays.  A friend and I went to the Kotel for the official state ceremony.  It started with the lowering of the flag to half mast and the lighting of a memorial candle.
Then there was a 1 minute siren to mark the beginning of the day.  President Shimon Peres spoke, tehillim and Kaddish were said, and the singing of Hatikvah.  It was very moving.

In the morning I made my way to Har Herzl, the military cemetery.  This country really knows how to do it right.  As we entered Har Herzl, we were given a small booklet  printed with relevant chapters in tehillim to say and Kaddish.  There were bunches of flowers available to take to the graves, and water bottles were provided for all the visitors.
We just walked to the different sections of graves and said tehillim and answered Amen to the many people saying Kaddish at graves of their family members. 
One really nice thing we noticed was an English speaking rabbi leading a group of girls, must have been from one of the seminaries, so we tagged along for a bit.  The rabbi was telling a story of a certain soldier and how he gave up his life to save his comrades, and then pointed out his grave.  It made the day so much more personal. 
There was an official tekes (ceremony) at Har Herzl as well, which was broadcast over the loudspeaker.  The 2 minute siren went off at 11 AM and then President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke, as well as the recitation of Kaddish and a special yizkor.  Bibi Netanyahu lost his brother, Yoni, in Entebbe, and he spoke so eloquently. 
I randomly bumped into my favorite chayal, my cousin Michael, which was a fun surprise.

As the day came to an end, the transition started to Yom Ha’atzmaut.  I went to a special tefilla chagigit at a local Beit Knesset and it was so moving. We raised the flag back up to full mast and once Yom Ha’atzmaut started the city just came alive with celebrations. 
Even Google got in on the celebrations!

On Thursday morning I woke up early and spent the day doing a hike and BBQ with friends.  The weather was perfect and the entire country is celebrating!  I can’t even describe how it felt.  I truly felt like I had finally come home.

Because others express my feelings so well, here are some links I enjoyed this week.