Memorial and Independence on the Same Day?

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:



Heroism at Chamber of the Holocaust

Tonight and tomorrow is Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day in Israel, which is commonly known as Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day). But, the full name of the day is significant.  The date was chosen in by a law passed in the Knesset in 1953 because it commemorates the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – the single largest uprising against the Nazis during the Holocaust – which intensified just before Passover 1943.

Today is a fitting day for a virtual visit to the Chamber of the Holocaust (Martef HaShoah) on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. Martef HaShoah was the first memorial established in Israel just after the founding of  the State in 1948. This place is dark and creepy as it should be. But it contains some very inspiring artifacts that symbolize some of the different types of heroism of the Jewish  people under Nazi domination. In addition to a memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and several memorials to Rabbis such as the Piaseczno Rebbe who gave inspiring talks during the Holocaust which are recorded in the book Holy Fire (Aish Kodesh), this place has some amazing original pieces: miniature tefillin that could be worn without the Nazis noticing, a shofar sounded in Bergen Belsen, a prayer book written from memory, and a Chanukah menorah made from potato skins. Each item reminds us of some of the greatest heroism of the Jews in the Holocaust. In that period of total and utter oppression, any act of expressing Jewishness was an uprising of it’s own. Any act of bringing light into a period of complete darkness was a victory.

May we take this time to honor those uprisings which were not so famous, but were tremendously heroic.

© 2011, Lisa (Leah) Bowman. All Rights Reserved.

Walking tours in Jerusalem: