Feeling restless this morning, I took a walk towards the prime minister’s residence on Rechov Gaza in Rechavia. I thought it would be interesting to be near his home when the 11:00 siren went off for Yom Ha-Zikaron (Memorial Day).
As I approached the area, I immediately saw the Gilad Shalit tent with all the people hovering around. Situated adjacent to the PM’s heavily guarded residence, the area was “hopping” this morning. The media was out in full force with large microphones and cameras all over the place. There were also many youth, some Israeli and some from tour groups, present at the scene. Most of the males in attendance were without kippot, the tour group leaders being the noticeable exception.
The sign by the entrance to the tent said “1779 days”, meaning that he’s been in captivity for nearly 5 years. Among the many pe0ple buzzing around was the recognizable face of Noam Shalit, Gilad’s dad. Inside the tent was an empty seat with a sign saying “reserved for Gilad”.
Outside, by the wall to the PM’s residence, were draped flags from various countries. For some reason the green Brazilian flag captured my eye more than the rest. It seemed to be full of music and rhythm.
Up the street, about 100 meters away, was the former Moments Cafe. About 10 years ago while the cafe was packed, a suicide bomber wreaked havoc on the cafe.
The clock strikes 11:00 and the sirens begin wailing. Everything stops. People get out of their cars, trucks, buses and stand for a few moments in silence honoring the many, many that have been killed.
Someone stands next to his motorcycle with the engine roaring. A baby cries as the mother fails to comfort him. Large professional cameras begin clicking off at a frantic pace to capture the crowd.
As the siren dies down, a soft and low-key version of Ha-tikva can be heard, probably sung by one of the young tour groups. The media flocks into the tent to interview the family.
The driver of the jeep that came to a hault right outside of the tent as the siren sounded, continues to stare into the tent as he realizes who is there.
Israeli flags can be seen everywhere.
That was this morning. Tonight it’s already Yom Ha-Atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. The modern state of Israel is 63 years old. It’s truly a miracle.
Wishing you were here to witness these events.