Monday, May 01, 2006
A Little Schizophrenia
It's almost Independence Day. But before we get there, we need to get through Yom Hazikaron, the day when we remember all the soldiers we've lost trying to keep our country.
I didn't realize how they did this so close together until my first year in Israel. Suffering from then undiagnosed pneumonia, I sat on my sister's couch, simply reading names off of the television screen. Channel one carries the names of soldiers killed in Israel's battles. The whole day, you just keep reading names. They keep going and going. If you move to channel two, you can find out who these names were. You can hear the songs they wrote, the poetry. You can meet the girlfriends, brothers, sisters, and parents they left behind. You can hear their last letters home, and you can almost get to know these mostly young boys who died so so early.
If you turn on the radio, you can hear every sad song ever written by an Israeli. You can hear about the children conceived after the Yom Kippur war. They say "you promised a dove with an olive branch." and they remind their parents "We've grown, we're now in the army...now we are men and women, now we dream babies. and that is why we aren't angry and we don't demand... you promised to keep your promises."
You'll hear Ehud Manor's song to his younger brother Yehuda. He remembers Yehuda's shining eyes solving a riddle, and he tells his brother, that his new son is beautiful as him, and he will be called Yehuda. Maybe you'll hear Shlomo Artzi talk about comforting a friend's wife. What I can tell you is that if you listen, you'll hear a plethora of songs of people crying for their friends.
For one day, you will be transported to a country where almost everyone has lost someone close to them in the battle for survival. And just as you sink into despair, you will remember why.
Because all at once, you'll hear the news, you'll hear that the Yom Haatzmaut ceremonies have begun, and then the news will end, and if you're watching television, you'll see Jewish children dancing. If you're listening to the radio, they'll suddenly play something happy, telling you that this is the holiday we've all waited for.
So how do we live with this schizophrenia? We have to. If we don't remember every soldier who died trying to give us safety, then what is this beautiful country worth?
This year, though, we commemorate another tragedy, one in which our own soldiers were used as tools to destroy what our brave citizens have built. This year, I understand why some Jews don't see the State of Israel as a miracle. This year, I see reason to mourn even on Yom Haatzmaut. This year, we commemorate the loss of homes and communities of Israeli Jews. And this year, even with all that's been lost, I still see the beauty of what is. I cry for those who lost their lives defending us. I cry for those who lost their homes from the governments stupidity and evil. Yet, still, in all the sadness, I see the children dancing, and they were born in Eretz Yisrael, and they've grown up in a Jewish country.
And I'm just a tiny bit envious of them.