Monday, April 26, 2004
Yom HaZiKaron
Today is Memorial Day in Israel, a time to mark those who have fallen in order to protect their country. From November 1947 to today a total of 21,782 soldiers have fallen (184 in the last year alone). Once again the siren was sounded across Israel, and everyone stopped what they were doing for a moment of silence. If not for those soldiers, Israel would not exist. To read about this day from an Israeli perspective check out Rinat, Allison, Israellycool, Gilly or Aaron.

Times are tough in Israel, with the political situation a chronic problem, the conflict always looming and economic woes evident (Israel reached an all-time high unemployment rate of 11% recently). But after mourning the loss of 6 million Jews last week, and their fallen soldiers this week, Israel really knows how to pull out of the sadness and wake up the country. Starting at sundown tonight (just as Memorial Day actually started at sundown last night), Israel celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Independence Day (Israel is a baby..only 56 years old!). And like any country celebrating it's birthday (and boasting a population of 6.8 million) , Israel comes alive with parties and barbeques and gatherings. All much needed release after a difficult week, and indeed, in the face of difficult times. I only wish I could be there to join the great celebrations. Israel has most certainly earned it, it's been a long hard road.

For those in the Toronto area, there will be a Yom Ha'atzmaut walk in celebration of Israel's birthday; details here if you are interested in joining. Also! The Toronto Jewish Film Festival starts May 1st. Info on that here.

But for today, let us remember those who had died in order to protect.