Three Videos to Watch about how Israel honors its Memorial and Independence Days


I teach Hebrew school in the afternoons to sixth graders.

As a teacher, my greatest wish is for my students, my budding Jewish scholars,  to ask deep meaningful questions about God, Judaism and our 5,000 year old tradition.

Can you guess what their most asked question is when their hands go up in my class, after being in public school all day?

If you guessed: “Can I go to the bathroom?” or “Can I get a drink of water,” or “Are we going to get a chance to play?” you would be on the right track;  except my students need to pose their question in Hebrew.

But today, when they asked me, I turned their questions back on them: Are you really thirsty? How badly do you need that drink? And … what if there was just nowhere to go to the bathroom?

This week, as in Israel, Jews have come off the sorrow of observing Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. It will be a challenge for these kids — the last generation to have any access to the first-account testimony from survivors — to get a comprehension of the enormity of the loss and the depths of cruelty suffered by the Jews who endured and who did not endure through the Holocaust.

But perhaps they could understand it through their own most basic needs, the needs of kids just like them during the darkest years of humanity. They looked at pictures of kids starving on the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto, asking for food when there was none. They read an account of a girl who “stole” an icicle to get water to drink when there was none.  They read about kids in hiding who asked for a bathroom but there was none; too risky.

Of course I let my students go get a drink of water and go to the bathroom, but when posed with these questions about survival and enduring the unendurable, they thought twice today before they asked.

Over the last week, Israelis have been on an emotional roller coaster ride: They observe Holocaust Remembrance Day, then Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, then move right into the triumph and joy (and yes, barbecues) of Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day. But how to convey these emotions to Jewish American kids who are tired after a long day of school on a rainy and cold April Day?

Youtube, of course!

Here are three videos I showed my students today. The first shows Israeli soldiers, strong, young and proud, singing Ani Ma’amin – I believe. A song that was sung as an act of spiritual resistance by the Jews in the concentration camps even as they faced death:

One of my students said, this song makes me want to cry. Crying about the Holocaust is okay, I said. It’s part of the learning.

This video shows how Israelis honor their fallen soldiers, by observing a complete two minutes of stillness by the sound of  a siren. Even cars on the highway stop:

After seeing this, one of my students said “This is how we should honor Memorial Day in America!”

Finally, the singing of Hatikvah (The Hope), the Israeli National Anthem, and this is not your typical Hatikvah:

Funny, but when watching these videos, not a single hand went up to ask to go to the bathroom.

Happy Birthday, Israel!

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a public relations professional and reporter -- and always thought I would live in the New York Metro area - before my husband took a job in Rochester, New York. Most in Metro New York can't find Rochester on a map,and neither could I before we moved. I am now a columnist and a freelance writer for Rochester's only daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle. I also am passionate about gardening, fitness and most of all, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. Here's my perspective on Western New York living - the good, the bad, and the snowy.

5 responses to “Three Videos to Watch about how Israel honors its Memorial and Independence Days”

  1. Nicole Brait says :

    I want to comment but I am just not sure what to say.

  2. Nicole Brait says :

    When I read the blog and watched the videos I felt like I did when I saw the name of my great-grandmother’s home town in Russia on the wall at the Holocaust museum. Very strong emotions, not all identifiable.

    • transplantednorth says :

      I agree, some emotions are just hard to describe. It’s those kind of moments that are important to pass down to our children and my students, these things definately stay with you. Where was your great grandmother from? Mine was from Bialystock.

      • Nicole Brait says :

        I honestly can’t remember the name of it off the top of my head. It is written down in a folder with other information about my great-grandparents.

        They were lucky and got out of Russia around the turn of the century. I was always told it was a very small, unimportant town so I was surprised to see it on the wall at the museum

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