Sunday night began Yom HaShoah and as Yossi told us, Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut will be a totally different experience in Israel that back home. So, Sunday after another great day in the Gan and in the afternoon doing some work, we started at 7:30 our program/tekas (ceremony). It began with Mariv followed by lighting candles in memory of the victims, Yossi talking to us, and various people reading Megillat HaShoah, a Megillat created by the Conservative Movement, discussed suffering, stories from the Holocaust and the final chapter discussed the future of Jewish life post Holocaust. Personally, I thought the Megillat was very well done and probably one of the best things the Conservative Movement has done in a long time. Afterwards we had a round robin consisting of 3 sessions where we learned about how various countries are teaching/or not teaching the Holocaust, how Israel helps Holocaust survivors and finally we talked about reactions to visiting Poland. After the sessions we had to the option to watch Defiance (a movie about the Bielski brothers and the partisans in Poland), due to work that needed to get done for Yom Hazikaron, I did not watch, but I still want to see the movie when I get chance.
Monday was for the most part a regular work day in the Gan and due to the kids being so young we did not tell them anything about the day except for that there will be a siren later morning. At 10 AM that morning that siren went off but due to clocks being seconds off I could hear the sirens in the area start and end a few seconds apart. While the siren went off I stood in silence and though about those who were killed, as well I got the chills from actually hearing the siren. Some of the kids continued playing during the siren, while others chose to stand with me or one of the other teachers.
Monday evening we drove to Kibbutz Yad Mordechai (a kibbutz named in memory of Mordechai Anielwicz, the commander of the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising). This ceremony was one of the official closing ceremonies for Yom HaShoah and I'm glad that we had the chance to experience this. A majority of the ceremony consisted of a lot of very long speeches in Hebrew and I was only able to understand bits and pieces of what they were saying, but I was able to get the gist (also thanks to Nadiv explaining afterwards) that they were generally saying never again, and they won't hesitate to act against those who see the Jewish peoples downfall. There were also some very beautiful and moving musical numbers which I thoroughly enjoyed and at the end some people from one of the local youth groups lit torches for some of the destroyed communities.
One more thing, Sunday night on the TV and radio all programming was related to Yom HaShoah and if a channel was not showing anything, it said that programming will resume Monday night. This was something that made me realize how special of a place Israel is.
Being in Israel was for sure different then being home, but it is hard to put in words how. Though due to this feeling, I was looking forward to Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut the following week.