Living in the diaspora (outside of Israel), we don’t always celebrate the holidays that occurred this past week: Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day), and Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day). As someone who grew up in Israel, I remember being in school and hearing the siren marking the moment of silence both on Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron. Many of you may have seen the videos of cars stopping on the middle of the highway for the duration of the siren and people getting out of the cars. It is incredibly powerful standing in silence as a community to remember the lives and memories of those who are no longer with us.
These solemn holidays are immediately juxtaposed with the joyous celebration of the establishment of the State of Israel, Yom HaAtzmaut. We go from mourning and sadness to the most celebrated day in Israel. This video, from BimBam, explains the holidays well – including the contrast.
Why this sudden change? And what can we learn from it? Israelis live in the moment. Each moment is celebrated to the fullest because of the reality of their world. They can not live every moment in fear of the enemies that surround them, nor can they ignore that there are many who do not believe Israel should exist. As a rabbi, one day I may be leading a funeral service, and the next day a baby naming. Life is about navigating the stormy waters and hoping to see a rainbow at the end. We will experience ups and downs, but we must find balance and making meaning at the other end.
It is my hope for us as we emerge out of this month of exciting Israeli holidays and another school year comes to a close that we try to maintain the balance in our lives. Together we can we navigate the challenges and the joys with patience and hope.