Day 221 of the War: From Holocaust Memorial Day to Independence Day, part 1

More and more people are coming to Kaplan on Saturday nights, my photo.
More and more people are coming to Kaplan on Saturday nights, my photo.

The week between Holocaust Memorial Day and Memorial Day, followed by Independence Day in Israel, is always heavy and somber, but this year it has been especially hard. To force myself to engage with Holocaust Memorial Day, I joined many of my friends at the rowing club for the traditional activity of “A Memory in the Living Room” in the club (in Hebrew, it rhymes: Zikaron Ba’salon). One of the oldest rowers, who is 86, shared his personal story of the war in Poland as a young child. His story was somewhat unusual because his father was a venerated physician who managed to protect his family and eventually immigrate to Israel. But for the last year and a half of the war, the family had to hide and was saved by a Polish farmer, (Righteous Among the Nations) who risked her life by hiding them along with two other families. Some were hidden in an attic above the pigsty, and others in a cellar under her kitchen. Like everything else this year, his story of hiding and survival had another dimension after the massacre on October 7th.

Kaplan last Saturday night was also especially heavy and determined. Every week, I see more and more people attending the demonstrations and rallies. I have also noticed that the way we express ourselves has changed. Until the Judicial Overhaul, many of us, including me, were embarrassed to admit that we love our country because it seemed nationalistic. Now we say we love our country and will work to change it so it reflects our democratic values of equality, humanity, and justice for all.

Sigalit Hilel, whose son Uri Tschernichovsky was murdered in Nova, stood on the stage together with Or Scheinberg, one of the leaders of the protest, and talked about her son and about the politicians who have hijacked our country. She said, “Our leaders do not have an ounce of compassion, and they are so arrogant. The way they talk is embarrassing and shameful. Uri was in Bnei Akiva (the youth movement of the religious Zionists) and then in Yeshiva. He always took care of everyone; he was a responsible child. They scorn responsibility and denounce it. They don’t represent me. I am ashamed that this is my government. We must remove it from office. Even President Biden has had enough of the Israeli government. Netanyahu has imposed isolation and alienation on us, making us pariahs, but we won’t let him. We shall replace him. I, who have lost the most precious thing in my life, do not give up. Because we deserve better, and we deserve to live in peace. It was the first time That I saw Sigalit Hillel in a Kaplan demonstration, and I was very impressed with her courage and integrity. She was eloquent and spoke from her heart.

These are the kind of people that we need to repair and rebuild our society.

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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