May 14th, 1948, according to Jewish calendar, witnessed Israel’s independence from Britain’s colonial domination and the birth of the State of Israel through the Declaration of the Establishment of State of Israel. Thus, this day was designated to be Independence Day. The day preceding the festive celebration day of national independence was Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel, an official Remembrance Day set to commemorate the fallen Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers in the War of Independence.
Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel is as heavy and solemn as the Holocaust Memorial Day, and yet the Independence Day that comes one day after is rather a time of great rejoicing. Engulfed in grief on the previous day and immersed in carnival atmosphere shortly after one night, how is it that Israeli people manage to switch moods from sorrows to joys so quickly? What kinds of ethnic personalities are behind the emotional transformation of Jews?
Mourning with deepest grief
Memorial Day in 2017 started at April 30th and ended at the next night at the same time. The next day, Independence Day began and terminated the same time as the Memorial Day. As a matter of yearly routine, at 8 p.m. there will be a high-pitched air-raid siren wailing for one minute and the Memorial Day is unveiled then. At Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, a solemn nationwide ceremony will be staged, which the President and chief government officials will attend.
The next day at about 11 a.m., with a two-minute air-raid siren emitting a signal for every car and pedestrian to be motionless, all Israelites are to stop what they are doing and be immersed in silent tribute to the fallen soldiers. Meanwhile, in military cemeteries throughout the land are sorrowful and gloomy memorial services one after another. Family members of the fallen soldiers, government representatives, public figures, police officers and security forces all turn up to guarantee the services smooth in progress.
Jubilation over the independence
Following the Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel comes a joyful holiday, Independence Day, marking the 69th anniversary of Israel’s independence. People swept away the air of mourning and lamentation, turning to revelry and pampering themselves with relaxation.
No matter in the modern and fashionable capital Tel Aviv or in Jerusalem with thick religious atmosphere, there are various sorts of celebrations such as gathering, barbecue, and fireworks displays taking turns showing up. Israeli people are freeing themselves up body and soul.
That day, Israeli military opens some military bases to the public and displays military armored vehicles, tanks, advanced weapons and so on.
At the Red Sea, Israel Navy demonstrates flotilla including fast patrol vessels, scouts and so on. The Air Force puts on air shows as years before, drawing thousands of people’s attention.
Though during the Independence Day, almost all the stores are closed like what they are on the Sabbath. What is entirely different is that the masses will not stay at home, but rather step out of the door. Most common options for celebrations go to having barbecue in the park or playing beach volleyball at the sea with the whole family.
It may be the only one day that citizens can revel all night without worrying about disturbing inhabitants. Numerous families gather together festively singing and dancing at the place where there are stars invited by the government to make public performances and people often leave till dawn. Fireworks bursting in the sad day can also be appreciated by the crowds at the square.
The national personalities behind the carnivals
In all, Israel’s festivals can be divided into two sorts: one sort is for recalling the past and remembering the history, having great significance in educating the future generations, such as the Passover, the Holocaust Memorial Day, the Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers etc. The other sort is for relaxing and rejoicing body and soul in several ways, such as Purim Day.
Why can Israeli people achieve the seamless transition between the mourning for the fallen soldiers and the celebrations of the Independence Day? Is it a kind of insincerity and hypocrisy? Typically, the answer is no. Jews hold the view that it is the fallen soldiers’ sacrifices that bring the country’s independence, strength and prosperity, and thus people should enjoy each moment as it unfolds.
Therefore, we can say the most outstanding characters of Jews are their ways of solemnly reviewing the past, devoutly living in the present and positively looking into the future.
Since the establishment of the state of Israel 69 years ago, there have been yet many problems throughout the land; for instance, hostilities from neighboring countries, territorial dispute and anti-Semitic community etc.
Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that the remarkable achievement gained by Israel has so far stuck out in the world. Her successful suffering education has engraved patriotic believes in the common people’s even children’s heart. Her cutting-edge high-tech fruit has helped develop the world’s second large Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, which has been the cradle of new and high-tech growth and incubator for science and technology.
All in all, Jews philosophy of life to recall the past, remember the history, enjoy the present and consider the future can act as a reference to us and their nature of enjoying each moment while one can is a spiritual illumination that deserves our learning.