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Yom HaZikaron in Edison, NJ

This post is for: Batya

Last night we went to a Yom HaZikaron service at RPRY, my children’s Jewish Day School. The school is in Edison, NJ, which borders Highland Park (it is only an eight minute walk from our home). The evening began with a memorial of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva students that died in the recent terror attack. Because my son is in eighth grade, he was part of the ceremony.

The boys entered on one side of the gym holding yahrzeit (memorial) candles; the girls came in on the other side of the gym. In small groups they came up to the stage and told a little of the story of each of the dead students. On the wall behind the stage was a slide show of the each of the murdered students.
memorial service at RPRY Yom HaZikaron  Yom HaZikaron at RPRY
Just by coincidence, my son spoke about Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar of Shiloh, where Batya is from. So I dedicate this post to Batya.

My five-year-old daughter startled as they sounded a siren similar to the one heard in Israel on Yom HaZikaron. “What’s that?” she looked up at me. “Shhh,” I replied, “I’ll explain later.” When the siren ended, I explained to her how people in Israel stop for one minute when they hear the siren. To remember the fallen soldiers, I think I said. I don’t know how much she understood, but I tried.

Later, a speaker from Israel who is visiting for a year spoke about the progress and problems in Israel. I missed most of the talk because I went out with my five-year-old. He said he is considered an Israeli in America and an American in Israel (like Batya, he came to Israel 38 years ago). There was also a special ma’ariv service (which I also missed). I was outside talking with some women about the ridiculous choices the New York Times makes for front page news from Israel on Yom HaZikaron (one of the women told the other woman, who had just come off the plane that morning from a visit to Israel, that she shouldn’t be subscribing to the New York Times!).

Happy Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day).

Ilana-Davita says

What was on the NY's front page?
Your children's school looks like a good school to me.

Leora says

Israel has all this programming for Yom HaZikaron about terror victims and fallen soldiers. And what does the NY Times focus on? Top left corner front page is an article on how Israel discriminates against Arabs.

Regarding RPRY, an emphasis on Zionism is one of its strengths. (no school is perfect, and I really don't want to use my blog to highlight problems in the school)

Baila says

I'm glad the school did something very concrete about Yom Hazikaron. It's such good chinuch for the kids.

Ilana-Davita says

I understand!

Leora says

Baila, I have some pictures from the school Yom Ha'Atzmaut parade, which is always fun and exciting, but I'm a little too tired to blog more, and I need to get ready for Shabbat!

I added a paragraph about the siren because as Baila says, it's good chinuch (chinuch=education), so I might as well educate anyone else reading this post about the siren.

Batya says

Thank you!
I'll tell Yonatan's parents when I see them. His mother is a teacher. I think she's teaching the 8th grade this year.

ps When telling children about difficult things like death, don't use euphemisms. Say "dead" not "fallen." Our kids grow up knowing what a cemetery is. Schools have placques of dead graduates in their front halls.

I was 3 1/2 when my grandfather died, and I didn't stop asking my mother where he was until they took me to the cemetery and only then did I understand that I'd never be able to talk to him again. I have always wondered if those conversations, when I was all of three (between my grandmother's death and his) were the foundation for my becoming religiously observant.

Leora says

Batya, thanks for the advice about teaching children about death. I don't think my daughter heard much of what I said, as we were in a very crowded gym. I do have an opportunity to talk to them about death at times, because my mother is gone (or should I say dead? See even I have a hard time with that word!). My daughter is always telling me that she will come back with t'hiat hametim (revival of the dead). I don't say much in response to that. I let her talk it out the way she needs to.

I think all the eighth graders were very moved by the children (yes, they were children) that died at Merkaz HaRav. These are 13 and 14 year olds, almost their peers.


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