Observing Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel

Today marks the third Holocaust Remberance Day I’ve spent in Israel. This time differed from the first two in one significant way for me, though.

For the first time ever, I was in public when the sirens sounded at 10:00 a.m.

Why did sirens sound and why did I make sure to be in public when they did?

Sirens throughout Israel sound for approximately one minute on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as well as other significant holidays in Israel, to help commemorate the event. At 10:00 a.m. on Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel when the sirens sound, every person in Israel stands up and freezes in place. Everything just comes to a dead stop. People and vehicles remains motionless for the approximately one-minute duration of the sirens.

I feel completely certain, that Arabs in Arab areas, such the Arab villages throughout Israel, East Jerusalem and, obviously, the West Bank and Gaza are exempt from this.

Previously on the Holocaust Remembrance Days I’ve spent in Israel, I did not know at which hour the sirens would sound and have been in my aparment – quite unspecial.

This year my friend Ayelet tipped me off as to when the sirens would go off. She also informed that, contrary to what I imagined, I would not be sitting on a bench snapping photos during this period. To do so would be disrespectful and upset those who saw me. So I got myself into a crowded public area by 10:00 a.m. so I could experience Holocaust Remembrance Day like an Israeli.

Israeli flag and other mememtoes of Holocaust Remberance Day in Israel

At 10:00 a.m. I was walking down the street in Karmiel, a small, charming town in the central part of northern Israel. As soon as the sirens sounded, everyone walking down the street just stopped. People who were previously sitting stood up and stood still. Cars stopped. Buses stopped. Everything stopped.

As we all stood motionless while the sirens blared, I saw that people who had been driving along had stepped out of their cars to stand with respect on the street. In the parking lot to my right, people who had been sitting in their cars had gotten out and were now standing. Two buses were stopped on my left-hand side, and I looked inside to see everyone standing in front of their seat. For one minute, millions of people throughout Israel stood silent and still, remembering the worst tragedy in the history of the world.

Seeing how Israel came to a halt on Holocaust Memorial Day was eerie, moving, powerful, dramtic. A short yet significant way to show that in Israel, they will never, ever forget.

3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. So glad you got to experience this, Sabina! It’s quite surreal to notice everyone just stop when you’re in a public place. I’m not sure anyone in the country is necessarily exempt from this, yet there are people – Arab and Jews – who choose not to stand still. It’s considered disrespectful and even offensive, yet I think it’s important to listen to why they choose not to stand still. It’s still a very, very sensitive issue in Israel.

    And thanks for the shout out!
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..Water, Water Everywhere – A Walk Through the Argentine Iguazu Falls National ParkMy Profile

  2. Sabina says:

    Ayelet, I’m so happy you alerted me to what time the sirens were to sound and that this is happening again for Memorial Day on Monday and Tuesday. It was so unique and powerful. I can’t wait to experience it again!

  3. My pleasure! Just remember that the siren will go off on Sunday evening and Monday morning for Memorial Day. Monday evening is already Independence Day’s Eve, so there won’t be a siren on Tues :) Looking forward to reading how it went!
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..Water, Water Everywhere – A Walk Through the Argentine Iguazu Falls National ParkMy Profile

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