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The Silence on Israel’s Memorial Day

When I stand silently with my neighbors while the tzefira, the siren, is sounding its awful wail, I am thinking of my daughter.
Israelis stand still on the Ayalon Highway as a siren is sounded across the country to mark Memorial Day.

Israelis stand still on the Ayalon Highway as a siren is sounded across the country to mark Memorial Day.
Photo Credit: Roni Schutzer /Flash90

Even as we stand here in silence, our minds filled with the songs and prayers of Yom Hazikaron night, we know that in a matter of hours the sadness is certainly going to turn to celebration and Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day) will abruptly turn into Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Independence Day).

The pain of Yom Hazikaron, as a shared community event, has a beginning and an end. This is how it should be. We confront our collective pain. Then we get back to the challenges in front of us.

When I stand silently with my neighbors while the tzefira, the siren, is sounding its awful wail, I am thinking of my daughter.

This does not make me a bad Israeli, or even a bad neighbor. If anyone asks me what he or she should be thinking at that moment, I will say: If you are asking me, then think about one person.

But I prefer that no one will ask me. There is no right way and certainly no wrong way to remember. No person should feel that there is a standardized and approved way to remember on Yom Hazikaron.

I have learned that the distribution of good and bad does not fall equally among the members of our community.

I don’t know why. I don’t know how to change it. I only know that when we are standing together, with each of us thinking our own intimate, private and unknowable thoughts but doing it together, that we are expressing a special kind of unity.

A people that knows to share pain will surely know to share simcha.

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About the Author: Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at thisoingoingwar@gmail.com .


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