Ten Days of Gratitude

“Israel has two Memorial Days:
Yom HaZikaron to remind us the cost of having Israel.
Yom HaShoah to remind us the cost of not.”

Each spring, Israel commemorates three significant days: Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror), and Yom Ha’atzmaut.  This is an extremely intense period of time for Israelis.

Beginning with Yom HaShoah, there is a two-minute siren in which the entire country stops, stands up, and observes a moment of silence dedicated to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. There are ceremonies all over the country, where the few Holocaust survivors we have left are invited to come and share their stories.

Next, we have Yom HaZikaron. The day is marked by two sirens – one on the eve and one in the morning. Flags are flown at half-mast and the entire nation stops to remember the heroes who died defending Israel and in terror attacks. Family members visit graves of loved ones and go around the country talking about those they lost. There are ceremonies all over the country, and everyone joins together to mourn.

As the sun sets at the end of Yom HaZikaron, the flag is raised, and the celebrations begin. Many people find this transition challenging, as there is a stark difference in mood between the two days. It is as if the people of Israel flip a switch from mourning to celebration. It’s a national holiday where everyone has off from work, schools and shops are closed, and Israelis go on hikes and have big barbeques to celebrate the beauty of our country and its independence.

On these days of reflection, it’s clear that we have so much to be thankful for. Through an initiative started by the Ein Prat Academy, the period from two days before Yom HaShoah until Yom Ha’atzmaut has become known in Israel as the Ten Days of Gratitude. The goal of this initiative is to infuse these ten days with meaning, and to use it as a time to reflect on what we lost, what we have, and how grateful we should be, living freely in the Jewish Homeland.

We are encouraged to appreciate the accomplishments and achievements of the Jewish people and to incorporate appreciation into this time of national reflection. On their website, you can find educational materials, activities for encouraging gratitude in children, as well as an incredible “Blackboards of Thanks” project. The Ten Days of Gratitude team hangs blackboards in cities, schools, and universities on which people can write what they are thankful for.

These ten days are a valuable time for each individual Jew, no matter where they live. It is a time to reflect on their heritage and their future. We hope you have a meaningful week and a fun-filled Yom Ha’atzmaut.

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