Yom Ha Zikaron L’Shoah V’Ligvurah

Today is a very important day here in Israel, and perhaps even around the world. Today is the day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust and those who survived and fought for their lives. MY day began as I left the apartment and heading out to be on a main street at 10am for the siren. At 10am the siren blasted, all cars stopped, all pedestrians stopped in their tracks. Drivers and passengers got off the bus, out of their cars. We stood there together, united, we stood there with the rest of the country in silence, reflecting. I had chills, because it is not often that I am able to witness such a powerful event. The moment ended, and it seemed after a brief pause, it was business as usual. I headed up to school for my Hebrew class. At lunch time, we had a special ceremony, David Halivni spoke and gave testimony to his experiences, we read the “holocaust scroll”, sang songs of hope, and had beaten into our heads that Israel is the solution.
It felt odd for me this year. Last night, my roommate asked me and my sister and tanta what our connection was to the Holocaust, how did we connect to the even in history. It was then that I realized I have a bit of survivors guilt. No one in my immediate family or the few branches out on my family tree was a victim of the Holocaust. My family made it to America a generation or so before. My connection to the Holocaust is not through stories of grandparents or aunts and uncles. It is through meeting with my Hazzan and hearing his stories of resistance, through the stories of my friends’ families that I am connected. It is through my Judaism that I realize the connection between us all, we all mourn, we all pray, we all hope for a better tomorrow. Mostly, we all REMEMBER, ZACHOR… we will not forget, we will learn!!
But, at the same time, being in Israel, I realized that the day has meaning no matter where in the world I am. Israel is the Jewish state, but not the only place where Jews live. Israel didn’t exist before the Holocaust, but Jews survived elsewhere. Israel is not the solution to the Holocaust, not the solution to all the problems Jews face. It is the place of our heritage, the place of our ancestry, the place of the bible, and the modern Jewish state. But, it is not the only place a Jew can live, and Now more than ever, I feel it is my place to differentiate between survival and Israel. I am a Zionist, but I am also a Jew who lives in America, I have a history there too. Israel is a symbol of faith, Israel is a homeland, Israel is a land to be protected and cherished, but not put on a pedestal as the only “solution.” I’m not sure what I think really, but I know I will always remember the sound of the siren, the chills, the tears in my eyes, the stories of survival and heroism, and the need to support Jews living all over the world…
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