Five ways to commemorate Israel’s important days
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Five ways to commemorate Israel’s important days

Artistic avenues for internalizing this dramatic period in the national calendar

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

(Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash 90)
(Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash 90)

The seven days that span Yom Hashoah,(Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, (Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days), are a time of reflection, thought and memory. From the litany of sorrowful songs on the radio to the broadcast of testimonies, documentaries and films on television, the entire country is focused on remembering and, eventually, celebrating.

With such an extensive commemoration, it’s no wonder there’s a world of songs, books, movies, places and thoughts that have been created to mark this time period. They help set the stage, so to speak, for these landmark moments. Here are five for the week:

1) The Arab and Israeli youth musicians behind Heartbeat, an ensemble created with a grant from Fulbright and MTV, have found that music does help them transcend differences, by working and creating together, said Aaron Shneyer, the musician and director of Heartbeat. They put together the song “Bukra Fi Mishmish” (Arabic for “when pigs fly” or for when the impossible happens), in the last year.

Say what you want to say.
I just want to play.
Give me my violin.
Smile for a brighter day!

If there’s hope, the power to work, and art, then there’s life.
My lyrics can move mountains. There’s music and equality.
Without fear there’s no patience, ’cause you don’t know what you would lose.
(That means if you know what you’ll lose, you’ll get scared. Then you know you need to be patient.)
Tomorrow will be better! Try to create and believe, Yes YOU Can.
There’s the sun and its rays, yes there’s hope down here.
The moon and even a bit of light, there’s hope, even if it’s small.
An important step in your life is to hope.
Take your step towards change.
Make your anxiety disappear.
To be free, you have to liberate yourself!

All day I’m looking through my window and I understand whatever is his is mine and whatever is mine is yours. We are supposed to even be brothers, but to me it seems that doesn’t really matter to you.
We’ll break down the walls, and take down the flags and then we’ll discover a world where everything is possible. When we understand that we’re all human beings then forever and ever we will be able to live.
We will be able to live!

Rabbi Meir Lau (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)
Rabbi Meir Lau (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

2) Israel’s former chief rabbi, Rabbi Meir Lau, has often said that he never fully told his personal Holocaust story, as a child survivor. His latest book, “Out of the Depths: The Story of a Child of Buchenwald Who Returned Home at Last”, was recently translated into English. As a memoir, it deals with his survival, his arrival in Israel and his life, as it relates to the events of the Holocaust.

3) Sometimes it’s the films that connect us best to the events that happened before our time. Ha’aretz recently listed the best films of 2012, some of which haven’t even been completed yet. One of them is “The Fifth Heaven,” from director Dina Zvi-Riklis, about a young girl entering an orphanage in 1944 Palestine. It’s an era-appropriate look at the time period being commemorated right now.

The tunnel of the 'andarta' (photo credit: Shay Levy/Flash 90)
The tunnel of the 'Andarta' (photo credit: Shay Levy/Flash 90)

4) In Israel, it’s often all about the andartot, the monuments placed throughout the country memorializing the fallen. They’re everywhere, and some offer a particularly significant and meaningful understanding of the event and victims being remembered. Take a drive to the Monument of the Negev Brigade outside Beersheba, known locally as the Andarta, commemorating the members of the Palmach Negev Brigade who fell in the 1948 war.

Designed by sculptor Dani Karavan, it is considered one of the first pieces in the land art movement, as the sweep of raw concrete is powerful in its impression, and physically symbolic. Visitors can scramble across its tower and through its tunnel, reading the names of the soldiers who died and passages from their diaries.

A high school Yom Hazikaron ceremony (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash 90)
A high school Yom Hazikaron ceremony (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash 90)

5) Ceremonies abound this week, and some of the more meaningful are the smaller ones, held in high schools and community centers, at gravesides and in synagogues. Schools start their ceremonies with the countrywide sirens sounded on Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron, using the moment to remember former students who have fallen in battle. Some synagogues mark Yom Hazikaron at the end of the day, before moving into the happiness of Yom Ha’atzmaut with a musical rendition of the psalms of Hallel.



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