Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Yom Hazikaron - Of Three or Four in a Room

3 months into my Hachshara, I told my parents I wanted to stay in Israel for another year and do the army. It wasn’t some sort of opening tactical gambit that would ultimately allow me to continue learning in yeshiva. It was a well thought out position from an ideological eighteen year old who felt that his shared commitment and obligation to Israel shouldn’t allow him to return to a life of parties and socializing in Leeds while his friends were hunkering down in the mud of South Lebanon, to be downing Tequilas as they were downing Hezbollah…

Partly due to my parents wishes (how can an only child give his mother a year of sleepless nights?) and partly to do with my own fears (If even my Israeli friends are telling me I am crazy, do I really need to be chasing danger?) I returned to England 9 months later. Most of the time I try not to think that August ’99 to Aug 2000 was the safest year to be in the IDF or how an extra year in Israel at that age would have changed me. I like to feel like I did some sort of service – that I was active on campus, taught youth about Zionism, worked for the Israeli Embassy, that I made my own sacrifices for things I believe are right.

But as all roads in life not taken, the shadow of the decision sometimes weighs on me.

As Yom Hazikaron approaches, I always feel a tinge of regret.
Its not that I mourn the fact that I don’t have someone close to mourn– in fact I’m thankful for it.

It’s not that I don’t find meaning in the ceremonies; I do.

Its not that I don’t have those to remember; Unfortunately I do.

It’s more that I feel that there’s something missing from my experience of living here – like most people are part of a club whose entrance may be prohibitive, but if you’re not in you don’t really belong.

Yehuda Amichai wrote that

‘Of three or four in a room,
there is always one who stands beside the window.
He must see the evil among thorns…
And how people who went out of their houses whole
are given back in the evening like small change.’

I don’t want to be the person who always stands beside the window and sees evil among thorns. Yet for one day a year, when Israelis unite to remember the fallen – like the kid from high school caught up in the café bombing or the inspirational madrich heroically killed saving others or the friend’s older brother killed from friendly fire or the neighbor’s first husband shot in the early hours of the Yom Kippur War – people who went out of their houses whole yet never returned, or saw the horrors of war and came back like small change…I remember too – but my memory is not that of someone in the inner circle.

And what does one do when the country you have tied your destiny in with turns into one big room, and you find yourself looking in from the outside?


Anonymous said...

calev, great post! and im not just saying that to "lefargen" , i really mean it. and soooo speaking my mind!!!

the part i liked most was the last paragraph: what does one do?!
but to end this post, with this question, "mavrik" !


NSB said...

added a link dearest - can no longer claim to plagiarism (yes, I do know that you don't mind all that much really .. but anyway)

- Me xx

Shoe said...

Face outwards and tell others who can't see. You are in a position to speak to the blind- to those of us who don't live in Israel. I think you do stand beside that window. You made aliya. We outsiders will be down at our local this Yom Hazikaron saying a few prayers for people whose lives, and bravery are frankly difficult to imagine. You at least have some insight.