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Monday, April 19, 2004

All right then…where were we?

I few minutes ago I was on the phone with tech support for HP discussing a small problem I was having with my printer. The HP support line I was dealing with is located somewhere here in Israel.

After I had given my personal information, model and serial number, we began to do some long distance trouble shooting. Suddenly the women from HP interrupted herself and abruptly asked if she could call me back. I was a little nonplussed, picturing no return call and another long wait on hold for a new person unfamiliar with my problem, but I said OK.

A moment later I was standing in the living room talking to my parents when I heard the wail of the air raid sirens. Of course…now I understood.

Today is Yom Hashoah, the day that has been set aside to commemorate the holocaust. Outside of Israel, there are ceremonies at synagogues and at Jewish community centers to mark the day, but beyond that, it is a day much like any other. Here in Israel, it is a day like no other.

Of the hundreds of cable and satellite TV stations, almost a third of them are running programming today with films (Schindlers List, Sobibor, etc.), documentaries and televised ceremonies, all trying to come to grips with this dark chapter in history.

What I had forgotten was that at exactly 10:00AM, air raid sirens all over the country scream to life, and for a full minute the entire country comes to a stop. Cars on highways stop and their occupants stand with heads bowed next to their silent vehicles…Pedestrians stop and stand on crowded sidewalks and in crosswalks…children and teachers stand amidst their interrupted lessons…Shoppers and salesclerks pause mid-transaction to stare back in history…television and radio stations go silent…

…and of course, tech support operators softly, but firmly tell their clients that they will have to call them right back.

For a full minute everyone stands and silently contemplates how, for a minute in history, G-d seems to have looked away.

At the end of the minute, the wail of the sirens trail away like the dopplered whistle of a train retreating quickly off into the distance. The inadvertent parallel of both the siren and the holocaust withdrawing quickly into the distance is not lost on the millions of people standing firmly in the present…a present made up of fewer and fewer witnesses and survivors, but with the torn, yet serviceable remnants of the Jewish people.

As the sirens trailed off, pulling with it our collective meditations, the phone began to ring. The young woman at HP, with the moist hint of freshly dried tears in her voice resumed our problem solving with a brisk, “All right then…where were we?”

A few minutes after hanging up the phone I realized how profound a statement that was, and how it suited Israel and the Jewish people far better than any anthem, philosophy, or creed. Our determination to forge ahead after so many attempts at a ‘final solution’ is perfectly summarized by that simple mantra:

‘All right then…where were we?’


Posted by David Bogner on April 19, 2004 | Permalink

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I LOVED this piece...

Most definitely a Lives page candidate. ;-D

Posted by: val | Apr 19, 2004 7:19:56 PM

Very nice, David. Like Yom Kippur, it is one of those days that you don't experience like anywhere else.

Posted by: jennifer | Apr 19, 2004 10:44:38 PM

Very nice.

Posted by: Chuck | Apr 20, 2004 1:06:54 AM

I got goose bumps reading that. Yes, only here can something like that happen. No matter our differences, at that specific hour we were all connected.

Posted by: Chaya Eitan | Apr 20, 2004 10:27:44 PM

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