How Do You Jew An educational, informational, conversational blog and (someday) podcast about Judaism, Jewish practices, customs, and rituals, Israel, and whatever else we decide to talk about.

May 1, 2006

Yom HaZikaron – יום הזכרון

Filed under: Israel — howdoyoujew @ 23:10

Israeli Memorial Day is today (Tuesday, May 2 on the general calendar, the 4th of Iyar on the Jewish calendar). I’m just back from the San Diego community ceremony, which I “hosted” (if you can call it that: I welcomed everyone, told them to turn off their cell phones – critical at any event involving Israelis – and read a couple of pieces setting the mood). I’ve been doing this gig for several years, starting when I was a grad student, and almost by accident, since I 1) have good organizational skills, 2) am fluent in both languages and can therefore translate poems, songs, essays, and other pieces to be read, and 3) have an excellent speaking voice and can therefore READ much of what I translate, when there’s a dearth of others up to the task (which is usually).

Anyhow, since it’s late, I can’t put together a whole piece about the difference between Memorial Day in the States vs. in Israel. Suffice it to say that the contrast between the mattress sales here and the somber, mournful atmosphere in Israel – one the whole country is enveloped in, thanks to the piercing air raid sirens going off on the eve and the morning of the day – is jarring, sobering, and thought-provoking, if you allow it to be. [I’m pretty sure I wrote a piece about this a couple of years ago; I’ll try to dig it up.]
Tonight’s ceremony, held at Congregation Beth Israel, was appropriately weighty and moving. It included a short animated film by a student at Israel’s Bezalel Art School (EnglishHebrew), several poems, and songs sung by a choir from Jerusalem called Me’orav Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Mixed, a reference to a popular grilled meat dish and the diverse population of Jerusalem, from which the young members of the choir come). I’ll try to find a link for them, but I’m not sure there is one. An interesting fact is that their guitar player/director is a religious man, who has a special dispensation from his rabbi/community leader allowing him to be present, not to mention perform, with singing, immodestly clad females. I’ll be sure to cover this topic in an early episode of the podcast, coming soon.

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