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A Solemn Moment Photo by Moshe Milner, GPO
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A Solemn Moment

01 May 2017 by Efraim Roseman

Memorial ceremonies can be very moving.  Your personal closeness, or distance, to those being commemorated inevitably determines the depth of your emotional experience.

A different type of commemoration, one which jolts the senses and can evoke a very unique sense of soul-searching, is practiced in Israel on its Memorial Days: the siren.  In Israel, on Holocaust Memorial Day and on Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, a siren is sounded for one or two minutes preceding traditional commemoration ceremonies.

At a prescribed hour, the sirens are sounded throughout the country including on all television and radio stations.  Everything and everybody comes to a standstill.  People stop what they are doing and stand at attention.  Vehicles stop wherever they are; passengers step out, even in the middle of a highway.  Although everyone expects it, and no matter where one happens to be at the time, the siren always seems to catch you in mid-something. 

To each his or her own experiences.    The longer one lives in this country, the harder it seems to avoid having known victims of attacks or those who died while serving their country.

For two minutes you are both an individual and the nation.