mercredi 25 avril 2012

Yamim noraïm - 20th century version

Jews consider the 10 days from the new year (rosh hashanah, that comemorates the creation of the world in general and of the human being in particular) and yom kippur (the day of atonement) as yamim noraïm ("terrible days"). And indeed, those days are seen as the moment par excellence for taking a step back from daily routine and reconsider our place and role in this world.

But in modern Israel, a second period can be considered as yamim noraïm: the one that covers the week from yom hashoah (when we remember the victims of the "Holocaust") to yom ha'atzmaut (independence day) through yom hazikaron (remembrance day devoted to fallen soldiers and victims of terror).

The connection hence made between the Shoah and the birth of a Jewish state shouldn't be taken as a direct causality: Zionism was born and had given its first fruits way before the Holocaust and, hopefully, Israel isn't just about giving Jews a shelter, it's about realizing a national destiny. Obviously, what happened in Europe accelerated the path, but the anti-zionist narrative accusing Europe of "giving" to the Jews for atonement of their crimes a land ppopulated by an innocent Arab population doesn't hold: Europe has just not given anything, they barely recognized a de facto situation the 29th of November 47 when they voted for the division of Palestine. Actually, this UN resolution didn't even create a Jewsih (or Arab) state: only six months later, when David Ben-Gurion declared independance did this State appear. November 28th there already was a Jewish shadow government, which had no more and no less responsabilities December 1st.

Anyway, this historical point being made, lets come back to our annual celebrations. I make this yamim noraïm comparaison because of the very obvious process of going from death to life. More precisely from "useless" death to "heroic" death defending the third stage: the resurection of a fulblown Jewish people on his land. It's indeed a central tenet of Zionsim to say that, even though 2000 years of Diaspora don't mean no Jewish people, only autonomy, security and gathering make it completely existant. Allthemore interesting when you see that the secular Zionists from Herzl to Ben Gurion hence adopted a very similar apporach to the one when can understand from both the Torah and Talmud (itself written in Babylon!), and generations of rabbis and Jewish scholars.

So during this week Israelis are inclined to reconsider their relation to their country and their people (very technically, they actually observe three times a moment of silence: one the morning of yom hashoah and two during yom hazikaron). This is perceptible through several ways:
- connection to Jews living abroad. This is more or less true all year long, but especially the days around the comemoration of the destruction of most of European jewry.
- visiting military memorials and cemetaries: not only most Israeli families have members serving their country during their military service, but unfortuunately many know more or less closely fallen soldiers (or victims of terrorist attacks). I actually just comme back home from a visit at Mount Herzl (the national cemetary), which was completely full of people of all backgrounds, including many youngs, accompanying bereaved families to the graves of their relatives.

I can't say it as an eyewitness for now, but it's known that the passage from bereavement to joy is particulary impressive on the night from yom hazikaron to yom ha'atzmaut. Pictures to come!

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