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Let me begin this week with a thanks to all those who responded via the blog, email or in person to last week’s blog post.  First of all, it is always nice to know someone is actually reading!  But that aside, it did seem to spark some healthy conversation in my Parent University class, the parking lot and other likely locales where parents meet and discuss issues of schooling.  Feel free to keep the comments coming!

Last Sunday was Yom Ha’Shoah – the day on the Jewish Calendar where we pause to remember the events of the Holocaust and the memories of all who perished therein.  On Tuesday, we will celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut – the day on the Jewish Calendar where we celebrate Israeli Independence Day.  In between, on the roller coaster of spring holidays and immediately the day before, is Yom Ha’Zikaron – the day on the Jewish Calendar where we commemorate Israel’s Memorial Day.

It is a remarkable juxtaposition of days – a complete 180 degrees of emotion that takes place with a click of the second hand and, in Israel, the siren’s call.  Unlike in the States where Memorial Day for many (although less and less the last ten years) is spent enjoying beaches, barbecues and sales; in Israel no one is untouched by war’s destruction and all pause to personally mourn.

Here in our school, we will for a whole host of appropriate reasons, place our emphasis on Yom Ha’Atzmaut.  We will celebrate Israel’s birthday on Tuesday with prayer, song, education, sport and food.  We will take time to acknowledge Yom Ha’Zikaron, but it will not have our fullest attention.  So I thought I would take advantage of this blog space to share a very famous Israeli poem appropriate for the holiday with some suggested discussion questions for families to discuss together.  I encourage you to spend a little time on Monday reading the poem and if you think your children are old enough, share it with them and discuss.  Let us use this an opportunity to remember all those who gave their lives to preserve our Jewish homeland and to thank all those who remain on the front lines to ensure its (and our) security.

 

The Silver Salver (Platter)

“A State is not handed to a people on a silver salver”

Chaim Weizmann, first President of Israel

The Earth grows still.

The lurid sky slowly pales

Over smoking borders.

Heartsick, but still living, a people stand by

To greet the uniqueness

of the miracle.

 

Readied, they wait beneath the moon,

Wrapped in awesome joy, before the light.

— Then, soon,

A girl and boy step forward,

And slowly walk before the waiting nation;

 

In work garb and heavy-shod

They climb

In stillness.

Wearing yet the dress of battle, the grime

Of aching day and fire-filled night

 

Unwashed, weary unto death, not knowing rest,

But wearing youth like dewdrops in their hair,

— Silently the two approach

And stand.

Are they of the quick or of the dead?

 

Through wondering tears, the people stare.

“Who are you, the silent two?”

And they reply: “We are the silver salver

Upon which the Jewish State was served to you.”

 

And speaking, fall in shadow at the nation’s feet.

Let the rest in Israel’s chronicles be told.

By Natan Alterman

 

Discussion Questions:

1.     Who do the boy and the girl represent?

2.     What do they mean when they reply “We are the silver salver upon which the Jewish State was served to you”?

3.     What do you think the poet is trying to express?  Is this an angry poem?  A sad       poem?  Something else?

4.     What do you think of this poem?  How does it make you feel?

5.     Why do you think this is an appropriate poem for Yom Hazikaron?

6.     How is Yom Hazikaron different from our own Memorial Day?  Have you ever celebrated either day?  How?