Well, this day actually started the night before, a la Jewish custom.
Last night we attended a wedding in Ramat Rachel, a kibbutz in The Jerusalem area. But this is not your regular kibbutz like back in the day; no Gan Yerek, no Refet, no Lool. This is a hospitality kibbutz! There's a hotel with conference facilities and function rooms including a nice wedding hall. And that's how the kibbutz makes a living.
Anyway, the daughter of a friend married a boy, both Israelis, both what you would call Dati Leumi, pretty mixed bunch but overall religious types, about 500 guests, and many many young people and young couples and expectant mothers and little children. Lots of head wraps and big knitted yarmulkes and tzitzis down to there, where getting dressed up means wearing a clean pair of chinos and a crumpled white shirt, or a long cotton print skirt and multiple headscarves twined together into a turban, and dangly bead earrings. You get the picture.
The bride's younger brother is a young man with special needs, and although his verbal skills aren't great, his absolute joy in dancing at his sister's wedding was palpable. And overall, what with the young couples and kids etc, this would have been one of the most joyous weddings I have ever witnessed.
So this was before and after the chuppah. The ceremony itself was much as one would expect. There was solemnity at the bedecking -veiling- of the bride, with songs and prayers, just generally asking Hashem to hear our prayers. Then more dancing the groom to the chuppah. Then the bride circled the groom to the tune of the Alter Rebbe's Niggun. That surprised me because I thought that was Chabad turf, but no; it was very moving. You have to know the tune and hear it to get it. It was full of yearning, even with the band's bluegrass sort of take on it.
And then we sang as we do, Im Eshkochech et Yerushalayim; if I forget thee O Jerusalem. And after the chuppah everyone just went nuts and the dancing went on and on.
And I looked around the room at the mothers and babies and the other special needs kids who came, friends of the bride's brother, at the happy shining faces of family and friends, and I thought: we will live forever. We Jews will live forever, in Israel, in Yerushalayim. We love our life and our land and our G-d too much to give it up, no matter what the threats, no matter what the Romans and the Nazis and the Iranians did or do or say, no matter what the pundits in Tel Aviv say about the demographic and Yehuda-shomron, no matter what stance Obama might take. No matter what the anti-Semites and the self-hating Jews say or think: Am Yisrael Chai.
Then today, I visited Yad Vashem.
I hadn't seen the new museum although I had recently been to the art museum- yes, there is one there at Yad Vashem- and to the archives. And the old museum, years ago. So it was time to go. We had a brilliant guide who knew her stuff. Not surprising to learn that she is a child of survivors as are my husband and myself. Well, if you haven't been, you should go. We were there about 3+ hours and I can't say that I learned anything new, as I have certainly read and heard a lot about the Shoa and WW2. But the uniqueness of Yad Vashem is that it personalizes the Shoa. It isn't just an unimaginable number of 6 million Jews; it brings home just how each individual is a world. What might have been if Israel was around in 1938; it doesn't bear thinking about. 1.5 million Jewish children; what a different world we could have had if only they had been rescued.
There is also truly amazing footage taken mostly by the Nazis- how incredible that they documented their crimes so well for posterity- showing mass shootings of Jews in various places, among other outrages. And testimonies of survivors, one after another, constantly screening. Every f****ing holocaust denier in the world from Ahmadinejad down, needs to be dragged to Yad Vashem and forced to take the tour.
Anyway, it was pretty intense. And to top it all off, we then went to Har Herzl to visit the grave of my brother who was killed in the Yom Kippur war. By then it was dark but we found our way to the right place and said Tehillim by flashlight.
I should have started this post with Yad Vashem, then Har Herzl, then finished with the wedding; kind of like Yom HaShoa followed by Yom HaZikaron followed by Yom HaAtzmaut. But that's not how it happened.
So yes, it was a big 24 hours. And oddly, or maybe not so oddly, the first thing I thought on leaving Har Herzl was that I was STARVING. Then we went to a niece's place for a BBQ.
'They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat!'?
PS All this on the background of Election Day! It's not often the Israelis get a Sunday. That's what it was, a Sunday on a Tuesday. The line to the Zoo was miles long, the parks were full of families complete with portable grills and the air was redolent with the fragrance of charred meat. They're still counting votes, it's very close and who knows what will be. But boy did Israel enjoy a day off.
Life always wins.
Am Yisrael Chai.