Yom HaZikaron started with a siren that sounded at 8pm all through Israel. We were privileged to join the people who live on Kibbutz Urim, the place that we stayed. A tekes (ceremony) followed the siren. We remembered the fallen soldiers from their kibbutz who were killed during the Israeli Independence War until today. During the ceremony, they lit the word yizkor , meaning remembrance, in respect, and they recited poems and sang songs. At the end of the ceremony, we sang Hatikvah in unity.
In the morning, we arose early to make sure we could get to Jerusalem on time. We were on the bus, just minding our own business, trying to catch up on sleep, when all of the sudden Yonit, our tour guide, told us all to close the blinds on the bus. As we arrived in Jerusalem, the chaperones handed out blindfolds and told us to put them on. We were a little hesitant because we weren’t sure of what was to come. We then were told to get into the aisle of the bus and hold on to the people in front of us while Maya and Alana, who weren’t wearing blindfolds because they had previously been to Jerusalem, lead us off the bus. When we took off our blindfolds we were standing on a promenade over-looking the whole city of Jerusalem. The view was mind-blowing (boom). After we took in the stunning site and did a few activities, we headed back to the bus.
Today’s tefillah leaders were Sophia, Skylar and Elijah F. They had an extra job because of Yom Hazikaron. They each chose a reading from the siddur that in some way related to today or to our arrival in Jerusalem. One chose a reading from the festival musaf, another chose from ma’ariv and the last reading was from an alternative English reading for the Amidah. They were great.
After tefillah, we walked down the street to Yad Lakashish. Yad Lakashish is a place where older people can go and work, get paid, have a free bus pass, and have a hot meal. Perhaps more importantly, these people become an integral part of a community. In return for those things, the elders work a few hours a day and create jewelry, art, mezuzot, tzedakah boxes, and much more. In the gift shop we were able to support this incredible organization by buying things for our wonderful family and friends.
Later, we went up to Har Herzl, the national cemetery, for the fallen soldiers and heroes. We had the opportunity to visit a few of the deceased soldiers; Yoni Netanyahu was first; then two men who died in 2006 and a man who passed 6 months ago while serving in the army. We then had time to pay our respects to each of the people’s graves we visited. This was very powerful and sorrowful. At the end of our visit, we sang Hatikvah in respect.
We are getting ready to switch to a happy mood and the Yom Haatzmaut celebration on Ben Yehuda street.