After the Siren

During the two-minute siren that goes off today at 10 a.m. in Israel on Yom HaShoah, the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust, I stand barefoot and motionless in my home. In solidarity with my brothers and sisters who have stopped driving to stand by the open doors of their cars on streets and highways; or who have stopped walking, talking, working, whatever to stand in solidarity in schools and shops, sidewalks and nurseries, offices and fields.

We’re all motionless. The siren is loud and blaring and unpleasant. It consumes the moment. Shreds the heart. Tests the soul.

During those two minutes no words fill my mind. I do not cry. I sense the presence of my ancestors, but they are always with me, in every moment.

I listen to the sound. I become the sound.

After the siren stops I want to make coffee, but I can’t. I’m hungry, but I can’t get it together to eat. Concentration eludes me.

After the siren, silence.

For a while I surf Facebook, reading posts about other people’s loved ones who were tortured and murdered during the Shoah. My ancestors on both sides were in the Shoah. I know the history. But in me, still, there’s that thought-obliterating siren, the aural equivalent of agony.

I finally make coffee. I’m grateful for my coffee. I get food. How lucky I am. How lucky are all who draw breath. Especially lucky are those who can feel, whether what fills them is compassion or joy, grief or love….or all those things together.

The only thing I don’t understand is why, after not shedding a single tear during the siren… hours later, now, though I want so much to be able to function… my tears will not stop.

About the Author
Sari Friedman's writing has been nominated for Pushcarts and has won several small awards. She has an MFA in writing from Columbia, publishes short fiction in literary magazines, and is looking for a publisher for two newly-written novels. More info at
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