All of Israel has been busy this week preparing for the coming together of two major annual observances, Israel's Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron) and its Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut), one sad and one joyous.
All schools have special plays and ceremonies on Yom HaZikaron, outdoors if the weather cooperates, to remember the soldiers (family members including their fathers, brothers and in some cases even grandfathers) who fell in Israel's wars and the victims of terrorism. At 11 am sirens sound for two minutes and the country comes to a halt. Drivers stop their cars and get out and stand beside them — on the smallest country road and on the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. People stop and stand at attention. It's an unbelievable sight.
As the sad day ends, the country is transformed at nightfall into all night partying that lasts through the following day to commemorate the founding of the State of Israel 67 years ago. At many of the memorial ceremonies, names are read, photos projected on screens and walls, prayers are read and appropriate songs are sung.
We're doing our part at Jewish Humor Central on Yom HaZikaron, which starts tonight (April 20) by abstaining from humor for the day and posting a beautiful rendition of the Prayer for the Welfare of Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) by Shai Abramson, the Chief Cantor of the IDF.
How many other countries do you know of whose army has a position of Chief Cantor?