Yom Hazikaron During the Corona Pandemic
by Adina Horwich
Yom Hazikaron, 2020
In a few days time we'll be marking Yom Hazikaron.
During my first half a dozen years here in the mid- late 70's, I observed it somewhat by proxy. I really didn't know any soldiers who'd been killed. Only years later, in the past decade, were victims of terror added to the solemn commemoration.
None of this had really touched me personally.
However, in early summer of 1982 all that changed with Operation Peace for Galilee. It's now going on 38 years! I've been going to Har Herzl religiously, never missed once, to visit someone who was very dear to me. A young man I'd been seeing and hoping to start a life with.
But he did not come back from Lebanon. He was in the well known battle at Sultan Ya'akub which took place during the first week, on June 10th or כ' סיון.
It took me many years to realize this constituted a traumatic loss. This certainly radically changed my life.
This year, these past few weeks, I've been wondering how, if, I'll get myself over to Har Herzl. Probably not with all the Corona restrictions we must abide by.
This year I won't be rushing over there by bus, then a good ways on foot, to reach his grave. This year I will not be snaking my way up through the maze of flower and manicured shrubbery lined paths, walking with next to no space between me and thousands of other Israelis, be they family, relatives, friends. Nor will they or the school groups, or tourists, be paying their respects to the Fallen.
I won't be scooping up a stone, on my way up, if I could find one, not even a small pebble to place upon it. I will not reach the row, find the grave with a small yahrzeit candle burning atop its headstone, draped with a black ribbon and a single carnation laid there by the IDF. Once there I usually sit awhile, take out a notepad and write about what has transpired since last visit. Sometimes nearby a family has met up and is saying tehillim, kaddish.
This year I will not be there when the nationwide ceremony will be broadcast promptly at 11 o'clock on loudspeakers, television and radio throughout the land. Commencing with the piercing wail of the two minute siren, thousands of flowing Israeli flags, the blue and white Magen David, the tchelet stripes bordering it, in their glory, will fly at half mast. With bowed heads all will stand at attention in silence, in sorrow, in awe and in reverence. Speeches, recitation of Tehillim, El Ma'aleh Rachamim, the Kaddish recited by a bereaved father or son, a gun salute will follow.
This year though only a very few will be there if at all.
Though I will not need to make my way home through throngs of a never ending chain of people shuffling in and out of the military cemetery, as in hundreds of others around the country, I will continue my own personal tradition.
Once home I'll spend the rest of the day in front of the television, right up till we transition into Yom Ha'atzmaut festivities at 8 p.m. The final salute and farewell for another year gone by without them.
This day will not end for me at noon. I'll devote the remainder of it to watching the steady stream of documentaries and films, interspersed with somber songs, that recount heartbreaking stories of our heroic soldiers; their lives forever lost, but never to be forgotten.
Adina Horwich, Yair Landau's girlfriend