Time doesn’t stand still every year on the 27th day of Nissan, but part of Israel does.
On Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, at the annual time established by the Knesset in 1951 to memorialize the Jewish people’s collective losses at the hands of the Nazis, restaurants and entertainment venues are closed, Israeli television carries introspective programming and most Israelis stop whatever they are doing when air-raid sirens sound throughout the land.
Two days after Rosh HaShanah this year comes another Yom HaZikaron. The first anniversary of the attack on America occurs during the Jewish Days of Repentance (the Jewish New Year is traditionally referred to by its Hebrew name, the day of memorial) and the Jewish community will join all Americans in honoring the memory of the 3,000 victims of Sept. 11, 2001.
They were showing the flag a lot in Israel this week. And a lot of flags.
Preceded by Yom HaZikaron, the annual day of remembrance for the soldiers who have fallen in Israel’s defense, Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, marked the country’s 60th birthday.
There were fireworks and torch lightings, concerts and speeches, a bike race and Bedouin festival, TV documentaries and parachute shows.
And it all began with the raising of the state flag at Mount Herzl.
In Israel, Independence Day is a cause for giving thanks:
singing “ Hatikvah”; hanging the flag from apartment banisters and on automobile aerials. For bopping friends over the head with small toy hammers.
Following Yom HaZikaron, Israelis celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Independence Day, as usual in a spirit of joy over the country’s accomplishments in its first 59 years with a twinge of apprehension over what future years will bring.
It’s not your zayde’s Yom Ha’Atzmaut.
Next Monday, New York’s Jewish community will hold its annual Israel Independence Day celebration, as usual, with singing and dancing. But the music will be contemporary, authentically Israeli.
“No ‘Hava Nagila,’ ” says Tzameret Fuerst, co-chair of the event and a founder of the half-year-old Dor Chadash organization that is the main sponsor of the celebration.
The dancing will be hip — probably no hora.
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Trekking through ice-coated fields in a brutally cold Russian October, Lt. Arthur Wollschlaeger pressed on, as he and his swastika-emblazoned companions conquered the western Russian city of Orel — another victory for the unrelenting German Werhmacht infantry. He had earlier taken part in invasions of Poland, Holland and France — a World War II military career that began when he first entered the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland, in 1938.