Welcome new readers, thank you for your interest in Israel! Here, I share my Israel experiences with you and how that tiny country has completely captivated me. I am not Jewish but I have an undying heart for the Jewish people and their amazing, beloved country.
If you’re just joining us, you can read last week’s issue on feeding Holocaust Survivors by clicking here.
On the heels of Yom HaShoah comes Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), today, May 7 and Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day), Thursday, May 9.
Yom HaZikaron (yome ha-ZEE-kah-rone), Memorial Day, is a day of mourning all military people who have died in the land while defending her. One minute sirens are blared across the country while everyone and everything comes to a complete halt showing respect and unity. No movement or talking for one solid minute to memorialize their fallen heroes. The heavy atmosphere is filled with sadness and heartache as memorial services are held, honoring the Israelis who paid the ultimate price for continued freedom. Seeing firsthand how Israelis express this day highlighted how we express our Memorial Day in the US...barbeques, parties, celebrations...which I think is an inappropriate expression for such a hallowed day.
After a day of somber mourning, the atmosphere completely switches the next day to barbeques, parties and celebrations on Yom HaAtzmaut (yome ha-AHTZ-mah-oot). It’s Israel’s Birthday and this year Israel turns 71. I know I repeat myself about this but I can’t help it...it is mind-bending and nothing short of a miracle what Israel has accomplished in just 71 short years.
On Yom HaAtzmaut, a national holiday, Israelis take to the beaches and parks, hosting barbeques and declaring their family has the best kabobs and burgers in all of the country. Israeli’s opinions are often the leading form of Middle Eastern entertainment. Living in America, a country where it’s frowned upon to share opinions, it is so refreshing to be in a place where it is frowned upon if you don’t share your opinion...as if something is wrong with you. And I can’t get enough of it.
It turned out that my first trip to Israel fell during these two holidays and it has become my favorite time of year to visit.
On Yom HaZikaron, our group attended a memorial service in Haifa where hundreds of current IDF soldiers filled the seats knowing full well they are standing on the shoulders of true heroes. The speeches and stories were riveting as the sacrifice of many were recognized and uplifted.
(Click the picture for a 2 minute video of the beginning of a Yom HaZikaron, May 2014)
One of my favorite Israeli Memorial Day experiences was at the Israel Goldstein Youth Village in 2015. Seeing the students come together in full respect of the fallen while chomping at the bit to enter the IDF to proudly protect their nation was awe-inspiring.
(Memorial Day Service at the Israel Goldstein Youth Village, May 2015)
On Yom HaAtzmaut, our guide hosted an authentic Israeli barbeque for us at Bloomfield Park in Jerusalem. The park was packed with families hanging out, playing games and enjoying the day. The highlight of the day came when the Israeli Air Force performed synchronized flyovers creating cloud shapes in the sky all to the roar and cheer of the crowds from below. It was impossible not to jump up and down, cheering them on.
If you ever find yourself headed to Jerusalem for Yom HaAtzmaut, do whatever it takes to snag reservations at the world famous, Machneyuda Restaurant in the Shuk. (Fair warning, rezzies can be difficult to come by, so plan ahead.) If you score a table, you will then be able to say that you have lived. Definitely, a bucket-list item for foodies and people who love to see the local scene on a festive holiday. This is In my top 3 favorite Israeli Independence Day experiences!
(click the picture to see a 1 minute video peek into Machneyuda)
This is the thing...Israelis express their emotions in a seemingly more appropriate way when it comes to mourning and celebrating. Opinions are plentiful, words are carefully chosen and emotions are expressed. For me, this resonates as I am opinionated and love to share! This is another reason why, I guess, I am more comfortable and feel most alive when I am in Israel.
During these special holidays, Israeli flags are everywhere...from car windows, buildings and light poles to hanging from balconies and people wrapping themselves in one for the parades, Israelis proudly show their patriotism.
Unity and patriotism.
Despite all of the different opinions and disagreements, when it comes to Israel honoring the fallen and celebrating their country, no country is more unified and proud to express their patriotism than Israel.
Israel is not for the faint of heart. Israel is a nation of people who live proud and outloud because they are grateful to be back in their homeland and nothing or no one will ever take that away from them again.
Happy Birthday, Israel! Aim Israel Chai!
As you know by now, Israel just came through 48 hours last weekend of over 700 rockets launched from Hamas and the Palestinians in Gaza at southern towns near the Gaza border. As of today, 4 Israelis are dead and hundreds wounded. This latest escalation of the incessant hatred of the Jews is strategically timed to fall during Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut and the upcoming Eurovision contest that Israel earned the right to be this year’s host country. Hamas hopes to add insult to injury by making Israel look like a warzone so no one wants to be there and Eurovision gets cancelled. The truth is there is no place safer than Israel and the turn out will be a record breaking event.
Prime Minister Netanyahu issued an ultimatum yesterday to Hamas to commit to a permanent ceasefire or the IDF will defend their country which means a war. A war that Hamas started.
Make no mistake about it, the media has been silent about the latest attack on Israel but journalists will come out of the woodwork to frame the Palestinians as the victims and oppressed because Israel is being forced to defend itself. The truth is, the Palestinians ARE victims and oppressed... by their own leaders...Hamas, one of the leading organized terrorists groups. It’s a sad day to be a Palestinian. If only the Palestinians loved their people as much as they hate the Jews.
Pray for Israel that her enemies be scattered soon and in our day.
Blessings to you,