Friday, April 27, 2012

Yom HaZikaron & Yom HaAtzmaut (a delayed post)

There was too much craziness going on in the office and after work for me to post anything yesterday or the day before, so I'll try to catch up a bit.

I decided not to return to the synagogue at which I'd observed Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) and Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) last year because the trip home takes way too long and I've been a bit under the weather for months.  (I just got back on iron pills last week--thus far, they don't seem to be having any effect.)  So I had a few choices.  I could go to one synagogue where they were having a zimriyah/kumsitz/sing-along, but I went there a few Yom HaAtzmauts ago and found that I prefer my singing accompanied by dancing (or vice versa :) )--I was actually bored.  Or I could go to another synagogue where they were having their regular evening activities followed by a festive Maariv/Evening Service and wine and falafel.  I found both shuls' plans a bit lacking--neither seemed to be observing Yom HaZikaron.  And the second one didn't offer the proper "bribe"--I can't drink wine, and I don't like falafel.  (What, a Zionist who doesn't like falafel?!)  Sorry, but I prefer to take my chickpeas/garbanzos/nahit straight up and drown them in tahina without benefit of frying.

Fortunately, I got an e-mail from Mechon Hadar, saying that they were having a transition ceremony marking the end of Yom HaZikaron (I can't remember the Hebrew term [Tekes?], and they've already removed the announcement from their website), followed by a festive Maariv.  That sounded like what I had in mind (minus the mangal).  So there I went.

The transition ceremony consisted of some readings and some recollections.  One woman spoke about the uncle she'd never met who'd died in battle as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces/IDF/Tzahal.  Another spoke of the project in which she'd participated during her service in the IDF Radio, in which she'd helped collect the poems of chayalim/chayalot/soldiers killed in the wars and persuade Israeli singers to record them for free for broadcast.  Then a young man leined (yes, leined) the Israeli Declaration of Independence (which I think had been described on the program as Megillat HaAtzmaut).  I had no idea that it had been set to trope/cantillation.

The Maariv service used some of the same prayers that I remembered from the previous year and later found in the Koren Sacks Siddur/Prayerbook. I was very glad that I'd gone to Mechon Hadar's observances, even though I was probably the oldest person in the room by 20 years or so.

Naturally, I realized after the service that I'd forgotten to add the Yom HaAtzmaut Al HaNissim prayer, or maybe I should say one of the Yom HaAtzmaut Al HaNissim prayers--the version distributed by Mechon Hadar is not the same one to which someone (probably a commenter here) had referred me last year.  Unfortunately for me, given my dubious Hebrew comprehension skills, both versions that I now have are in Hebrew only, which made it difficult for me to choose one the next day for Shacharit/Morning Service and Mincha/Afternoon Service.  I chose the one that didn't describe Israel's attackers as r'shaim/wicked.  I would prefer to describe those who attacked the fledging Medinat Yisrael/State of Israel in 1948 as angry.  (Those who've attacked Israel from Gaza since Israel withdrew from there are another story.)

I also noticed--after the fact, of course--that the Koren Sacks Siddur has a Shacharit for Yom HaZikaron.  I'll remember that for next year.  I'm glad that that service is clearly marked.  I had quite a time of it trying to find the Shacharit for Yom HaAtzmaut, until it finally dawned on me that Koren Sacks considers Yom HaAtzmaut a Yom Tov/Festival, and that I should check the Shacharit for Yom Tov.  Basically, the Koren Sacks Siddur treats Yom HaAtzmaut like some interesting combination of Hoshana Rabbah and Chanukah, with (a) the P'Sukei D'Zimrah of a Shabbat (Sabbath) or Yom Tov (Festival) morning up to but not including Nishmat Coll Chai (as on Hoshana Rabbah) (b) full Hallel, as on Chanukah, and (c) no Musaf, as is also the case for Chanukah.

I see that DovBear once recommended that, if one chooses to say Hallel on Yom HaAtzmaut, one should say Half Hallel :

"Finally, I think a full hallel (with a brocha anyway) is a tremendous error. “God is not happy at the downfall of the wicked. ... When the angels tried to sing songs of praise to God at the Red Sea, God silenced them: ‘My handiwork, my human creatures, are drowning in the sea and you want to sing a song of praise?’” (T.B. Megillah 10b) For this reason, we say a half-Hallel on the last six days of Pesach. And how many Arabs died on Yom Haatzmaut related events? It seems to me that if we can temper our Pesach celebrations out of respect for the people who enslaved us for 210 years, we can, likewise, recognize the humanity of the Arabs on Yom Haatzmaut, as well."

I might consider that approach for next year.



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