Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Journey to Israel 1974: Israeli Independence Day, Shabbat and Yad Vashem

on February 2, 2017

We arrived in Jerusalem on a Friday to spend the Sabbath weekend. The Jewish people were celebrating the anniversary of their Independence from Great Britain, which took place May 14, 1948. The streets were filled with people. Many were members of the Israeli Army in uniform, still deployed near the Golan Heights after the Yom Kippur war the previous October. In Israel all young people, men and women, most of them Sabras, were conscripted to military service. At sundown the festivities in the street stopped and people went in search of a place to begin Shabbat. Only previously cooked food was allowed. Tourists usually made reservations for their evening meal. We were unaware of the custom and were fortunate to find a restaurant with space for us. The city became quiet, there was no traffic in the streets. No use of electricity was allowed. There would be no food available in restaurants until sundown on Saturday and then only after the stoves and ovens had been turned on just after the sun went down. Breakfast at our hotel Saturday morning was mostly hard-boiled eggs cooked Friday afternoon, fresh tomatoes, and bread. We carefully stuffed food in our pockets to save for our lunch. We welcomed Sunday morning when we would resume our tour of Jerusalem.

I will never forget Yad Vashem, Memorial to the Six Million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. The Memorial was designed to represent a tomb with its low ceilings and windowless rooms. A sense of oppression filled me as I entered the memorial. The names of the concentration camps were written on the floor. Collections of eye glasses and shoes and human hair were searing testimony to people who once lived ordinary lives. Photos of families and children were the saddest part of the collection. There was silence as people struggled with their emotions and memories, and disbelief at how the holocaust could have happened.

8 responses to “Journey to Israel 1974: Israeli Independence Day, Shabbat and Yad Vashem

  1. Cecilia says:

    Very interesting post, I learned a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very interesting and emotional. These posts are really special!

  3. vivachange77 says:

    Thanks for your comment and feedback, Lynn. 🙂

  4. hbsuefred says:

    Interesting that you should write about the reason for the celebration in the same post as the celebration.

  5. I of July says:

    Quite like how you separating the ‘chapters’. There’s a nice continuity and yet each can be read on its own to satisfaction.

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