Tonight and tomorrow is Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day. The memorial days leads immediately into Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day.
In the first two years of the State of Israel, the government couldn’t decide on what would be the appropriate day for Memorial Day, so they were actually celebrated both on the same day. Understandably this was too emotionally and technically difficult, so in 1951, the day was moved one day back.
This juxtaposition of the two days feels right in Israel. Let’s take a virtual visit to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv to understand this more deeply. On May 14th, 1948, emotions were running high. The events of that day changed the world. Golda Meir explains in her autobiography that David Ben Gurion announced, “’…by the virtue of our historic and natural right and the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, do hereby proclaim the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel – the State of Israel.’ The State of Israel! My eyes filled with tears and my hands shook. We had done it. We had brought the Jewish State into existence…The long exile was over.”
Throughout Israel, there was dancing and celebrating. And yet, not only was the State declared with the understanding that the Arab armies would likely soon attack, but there was at the same time great sadness about those who had been murdered in the Holocaust (90 percent of Israelis at that time had lost at least one relative) and many Jews had already been killed in Palestine in the years preceding the establishment of the State.
Golda was one of the people to sign the Declaration. She comments, “All I recall about the actual signing of the proclamation is that I was crying openly, not able even to wipe the tears from my face, and I remember that a man called David Tzvi Pinchas who belonged to the religious Mizrahi Party came over to try to calm me. ‘Why do you weep so much, Golda?’ he asked me. ‘Because it breaks my heart to think of all those who should have been here today and are not,’ I replied, but I still couldn’t stop crying.”
And, just as we will do this year when we transition on Wednesday afternoon from Rememberance Day to Independence Day, Golda concludes on a high note, “After the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra played the Hatikvah, Ben Gurion rapped his gavel for the third time; ‘The State of Israel is established. This meeting is ended.’ We all shook hands and embraced each other. Israel was a reality.” (My Life, Golda Meir)
May we all have a meaningful Yom HaZikaron and a wonderful celebration for Yom Ha’atzmaut.
Join me on a walking tour to learn more about the State of Israel, Knesset, Supreme Court, emblem and more:
© 2012, Lisa (Leah) Bowman. All Rights Reserved.
Walking tours in Jerusalem: http://www.jerusalemwalkingtour.com