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Reflections on Yom Hashoah (ISRAEL INSIDER COMMENTARY) By Jonathan Feldstein 05/05/05)Source: http://web.israelinsider.com/views/5477.htm ISRAEL INSIDER ISRAEL INSIDER Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The siren just sounded for all of Israel to stop for two minutes in observation of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). I must admit that I am still choked up and with tears as I write down these thoughts. I had only been in Israel once before on Yom Hashoah, but this is the first time living here as a citizen. The difference is profound.

It is a solemn, shaking, and powerful experience to see a whole country stop in its place. Not only do people stop in their tracks, get out of their cars and public buses to stand still in the middle of the road, but national television and radio also stops.

Starting last night, the country´s media switched into Holocaust mode. Radio programs have been discussing the Holocaust, anti- Semitism, and interviewing survivors for the past few days. But last night I don´t think that a single TV station here broadcast anything other than Holocaust programming. I never realized there were so many movies made about the Holocaust; and so many documentaries with their pictures of death camps, and corpses, both dead and alive.

The channels that didn´t provide Holocaust programming, went silent instead. There was no home shopping channel, no frivolous MTV music videos.

Not only was it the first time I experienced Yom Hashoah as an Israeli citizen, but all week I have been wondering about how my children would understand the day. They have been learning in school, at age-appropriate levels, about the Holocaust all week. But there?s a big difference in their learning as new immigrants. Children born in Israel grow up with the Holocaust and Yom Hashoah as part of life, from the beginning. This first Yom Hashoah for them must be a strange experience. As their parent, I was concerned that it should be meaningful and not frightening.

I must admit that in the U.S., it was a challenge to take a moment and reflect on the Holocaust in any substantial way. But in Israel it is impossible to escape this commemoration, and that?s how it should be.

Trying to grasp the number six million, for the first time, I got it. It is as if someone were to murder all the Jews of Israel.

Unfortunately, there are those who would do so today if given the opportunity.

That makes today´s commemoration all the more significant. And also next week, when we mourn Israel?s military deaths, and the next day, when we shift our sadness to joy as we celebrate Israel?s independence -- the revival and vitality of Jewish life in the Jewish homeland.

As you begin your day in the Diaspora, I hope that these thoughts will add meaning -- and perhaps a few more minutes -- to your day´s observation of Yom Hashoah.

While we all must continue to remember, let us hope that in the future, more of our national commemorations will be of joy, rather than sadness. (© 2001-2005 Koret Communications Ltd. 05/05/05)

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