Decades ago when I was a high schooler I first heard one of our Israeli teachers–in our Modern Orthodox day school there were many, describe the sirens of Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron.
“The whole country stops, People get out of their cars, Highway traffic stops and everyone merges together in silent contemplation.”
Cool, I thought. In Manhattan the only sirens we ever heard came from ambulances and fire trucks and no one ever stopped for those.
When I first moved here, I looked actually looked forward to the siren moment. It was simultaneously wierd and thrillling to watch as if we were all picked in a huge collective game of freeze tag. The spiritual side resonated. I was moved by the notion of a people collectively mourning it’s losses, the entire nation, suddenly one.
But no more.
I’ve been living here since 1984. That means I’ve lived through the Gulf War, Lebanon Wars 1 and 2 , Operation Cast Lead and this winter’s brief rocket foray over the South not to mention Intifadas 1 and 2 and everything else in between..
I’ve heard sirens that are for real.Too many times. Sirens that meant, go into your sealed room. In the media, I heard sirens in the North and South tellling residents to take shelter from falling Kassams and Grads.
Sirens make me shudder. They make my heart bang inside my chest. They make me shake and feel afraid. I don’t want to hear them anymore.
I suspect that I’m not alone in this feeling. This morning were any folks down South afraid?. Even if one slightly confused senior citizen felt a slight palpitations wouldn’t that be reason enough to rethink this practice?
In earlier and arguably more peaceful times, there might have been a justification but today when too many of us have heard sirens telling us to run into shelters I think it’s time that we leave air raid sirens for air raids and find some other way to remember our fallen loved ones.