You know it’s lonely place when your dreams might come true but you want to leave because your burnt out, and that’s where I am. I have lived in the barren lands of the desert and everyday feel myself becoming more consumed with its presence and small town mentality. I want to break free, leaving the dust clouds blow behind me, as I walk away into freedom. Arms stretched out to the sun and chin help up high, I soak in the rays from the sun and let its warmth wash away my problems and anxieties. For a moment I forget my fears and I drift away back to home. Home is the place where the grass greener and clouds make shapes. Thoughts of wild rice, grilled trout, sweet corn and cheddar cheese make my stomach grumble. As I daydream, the saliva drips from the corners of my open mouth. I feel the breeze and choke on the dust abruptly. I decide to get up and go home, third story white building. The deaf neighbor blares the latest Moshe Perez song and the hall rattles to the sitar sounding middle-eastern music. I find a small lizard on my door, clear, tanish, camouflage in the sand, and I know he wants a break from the afternoon heat. The house is filled with the smell of paprika and cooked tomatoes, fresh-baked pita wafts through the plastic bag. Mmmm…Shakshuka…..The warth of the desert takes me in and I succumb. For this is home, far from the heart, warm from the sun.
It’s funny. I read someone’s blog and she had mentioned that Israelis are never quiet, and it’s true. In society where people talk and sound like they are fighting, everyone has more than one cell phone usually also serving as a boombox and general American terms of politeness don’t exist. It is safe to say that Israeli society is loud and harsh. It makes it so much harder to imagine and leaves a greater impact for us foreign nationals, when we bear witness to the silence in Israel.
It only happens on two days each year.
Once on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and twice on Yom Ha’Zikaron, Israel’s Memorial day for fallen soldiers.
The sirens blare across all of Israel at the same time. Everything stops, almost Twilight Zone like, traffic stops as is, and people step out of their cars to stand. Pedestrians stop dead in their tracks, no matter if they are in a public restroom, memorial ceremony or at the local convenience store. It doesn’t matter, the silence ensues.
It’s almost an uncomfortable feeling, to have your head filled with a loud shrieking noise and fighting for space to center yourself. And then you can’t help but think why that noise is so consuming, why everyone is so still. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the weeping widow, head bowed with tears rolling down her face. I also watched her clutched to her toddler, a little boy just under two years old, during the Hatikvah. She sang the words holding him tightly in her bosom and afterwards, she put him down and fell onto the side of the grave, placed her head on the stone and cried.
I thought of the countless other mothers I know whose sons and daughters lost their lives while serving their country. The strings of my heart were pulled. From a little girl on, I was raised to believe in the importance of Democracy and the sacrifice that comes with such a gift. Freedom isn’t free. I have seen the same look on other mother’s faces in person, graveside or on the news, war torn.
It was hard not to feel any emotion when looking onto a little boy who will grow-up never knowing his father. The silence reached my soul and I felt myself being hushed and quieted with all the country. At that moment, with puffy eyes and tears held back I felt a sence of pride. I was standing in solidarity with Israel, with the families, with their memories and with the community. I was Israeli for two minutes of siren and it was the first time I was happy to be here, as Israeli as I ever could be.
On the eve of Yom Ha’Zikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, I wanted to share this beautiful and moving poem, which for some it may be familiar and for some it may be new. Either way, please read and appreciate, even if you are not a supporter or Israel, at least appreciate the eloquent words and moving emotions that make this an important and touching poem to many. תודה רבה