As many of my readers know, the air raid sirens go off in Israel on two special days of the year: once on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and twice on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day). Everyone stops what they’re doing for the duration of the siren.
Today was Yom Hashoah. I didn’t go to any ceremonies, but of course I stood at attention when the siren sounded at 10:00 a.m. And I thought about the fact that the siren makes you drop everything immediately, just like you would have to do if (God forbid) there were an emergency. Thank God, things have been pretty quiet. Syria made some waves over the winter, but that crisis passed without major incident.
It’s no coincidence that they use the air raid siren for these holidays of remembrance and not another sound or symbol. It reminds all of us that the things we’re remembering happened to people just like us who had their lives interrupted. You stand and listen and take yourself out of your life for a minute and imagine yourself in a different place and time, in the past or the future, one where the siren means you have to run for shelter instead of standing and remembering.