Tomorrow in Israel we will experience a deeply painful and almost impossible transition – the transition between the Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism (יום הזכרון) and the Independence Day (יום העצמאות) – Israel's 72nd birthday.
The Memorial Day, the saddest day in the Israeli calendar, ends when the sun sets, and the first cheering fireworks of the Independence Day can be seen everywhere in the sky.
Why? can this painful transition be prevented? is it possible to cry and cheer at once?
This surrealistic routine was set during Israel's first years, maybe not intentionally:
Amidst the turmoil during Israel's early days, decision makers were not able to have a proper discussion to decide the appropriate date for the Memorial Day ("סחבת" = foot-dragging).
As a last resort and under pressure, a technical solution was found, probably without fully understanding its long-term implications.
Ben Gurion justified the date set by stating:
"גם ביום חג יש להעלות על ראשינו את זכר אלה שמידם באה לנו עצמאות"
– even when celebrating we must keep in mind the memory of those who made our independence possible.
Maybe this is the true essence of being Israeli – experiencing grief (צער) and memory (זכרון) together with excitement (התרגשות), happiness (אושר) and gratitude (הכרת תודה) (also very Israeli – setting a technical solution and dealing with its effects only years after…)
The Memorial Day and Independence Day will be mentioned this year in our living rooms (סלון) thanks to the Corona virus taking over.
On a personal note, these days when Israel is experiencing a deep political and social conflict, and our personal mobility and space are being limited, there is something in the solidarity (סולידריות) of the 2 min sirens (צפירה) heard during the Memorial Day that moves me more than ever.
Mazal Tov – מזל טוב Israel, I hope we will still wish to be "עם חופשי בארצנו" (a free nation in our country) next year as well.