A nation’s collective reset

Got through another one, we think to ourselves. This year especially, that sigh may be a little heavier, with the relatively recent frenzy of activity fresh in our minds.

April 15, 2013 05:52
2 minute read.
Israelis stand still as the sirens wail

siren standing yom hazikaron 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Around this unique window of time called Remembrance Day and Independence Day, it seems like you can almost hear a collective release of breath from Israel’s eight million citizens.

Got through another one, we think to ourselves. This year especially, that sigh may be a little heavier, with the relatively recent frenzy of activity fresh in our minds.

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We’re just on the other end of a divisive, indecisive election, with a government dominated by newcomers finally in place; President Barack Obama’s milestone visit is behind us, with its reassuring reconfirmation of deep friendship between Israel and the US; and last week, we observed Holocaust Remembrance Day, which reminded us – as it does every year – why the existence of the State of Israel is so essential.

One event after another, constant overlapping, with no time for reflection, a respite or a chance to regroup – that’s how Israel is, for better or for worse.

“Life just kind of empties out, first the deluge then the drought,” writes the great American lyricist Aimee Mann, describing how our days can be full of blinding bustle, followed by relative calm, or even solitude.

In Israel, we don’t have that calm thing going at all. The specter of Iranian nuclear aggression, the volatile northern border with Syria, the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, combined with growing economic uncertainty, and all the other dynamic aspects of life here insure that the coming days and years will not resemble a drought.

And forget about solitude. In our in-your-face environment, one has neither the space nor the luxury to take a step back and observe, or simply be quiet.

That’s why the doubleheader of Remembrance Day and Independence Day is so crucial to the rhythm of the country. It provides that much-needed period in which we can temporarily put aside the daily worries – whether monumental or petty – and take stock of who we are, what we’ve accomplished and the painful price we’ve paid along the way.

It’s a time to mourn our heavy losses shoulder-to-shoulder with all of the families who sacrificed loved ones defending the country through 65 years of war and strife. And then, when we can mourn no more, it’s time to celebrate our freedom shoulder-to shoulder with everyone out there, filling the nation’s public spaces with barbecues, hikes and picnics.

Amid the revelry, though, don’t forget to listen for that collective release of breath.

Maybe even join along, and cherish the opportunity to let it all out and press the emotional reset in your mind.

Because as soon as the holiday is over, you can be sure that the next deluge is right around the corner.

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