I have been living in Israel with my family now for over 30 years, baruch Hashem. I don’t often travel out of the country, but when I do, I feel homesick for things I sometimes take for granted. My last trip was no exception, until someone performed an act of kindness, which taught me something new. Recently, my husband and I flew to the States to visit with his mother. Our decision to go was a last minute one, and so we found ourselves waiting for our flight on Yom HaZikaron. This is a day dedicated to the memory of our fallen soldiers, as well as those who were victims of terror. At exactly 11 a.m., a two-minute siren was to be sounded throughout Israel. During this time, we all stop whatever we are doing, and stand with our heads bowed in thought or prayer. My husband and I try to be in a public place when the siren sounds. It makes us feel part of a bigger whole, part of a family.
At the airport, I half hoped that our plane would be delayed for a short period of time, giving us the opportunity to stand among many others. This was not to be, and our plane took off as scheduled, a short while before the siren could be heard. As the minutes ticked by, we sat buckled in our seats. The plane rose ever higher and I mourned the fact that this year, we would not be part of a united whole.
Suddenly, the pilot’s voice could be heard. He explained that this was a special day for those passengers on board who lived in Israel. He then said that at exactly 11 a.m., he would shut off the seatbelt sign. Those of us, who wished, could stand up for two minutes of silence. He also asked the other passengers to please respect our two minutes of reflection and prayer.
When I first boarded the plane, I had felt sad to think I would not be a part of a collective moment. Instead, I found that the thought of all of us standing silently in a moving plane, flying further away every second, would be one of the most moving experiences of my life. I might have been physically far from home, but I realized that I was eternally linked to my brothers and sisters, and to my land, wherever I happened to be.