Holocaust Heroes and Martyrs Remembrance Day is the official name. The shorter, blunter name we usually call this day is Yom HaShoah.
At 10:00 this morning all movement stopped. Israelis got out of their car or chair or whatever and stood in silence for two long minutes. Only the chilling wail of every air-raid siren in the country was heard.
I happened to be out walking on the campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Flags were set out in the center of the plaza. Someone had just sung "Eli, Eli." Then the siren blared. Each young person went into his/her own thoughts and/or prayers but we all stood together, Jewish and Arab students, religious and secular, in uniform and in civilian. It felt right, standing with my people.
And, the greatest blessing--beside me stood my daughter and her two little sons--Jewish, Israeli, Hebrew-speakers, and very much alive! My grandkids have names: Dean and Eyal.
The 1,500,000 children killed in Hitler's death camps had learned to answer to the number tatooed on their arm. The emphasis of this year's Shoah Day is "Children in the Shoah."
As I tried to contain my tears, our near-by siren blast came to an end. But still no one moved. We all remained motionless, listening as far-away sirens from all parts of Jerusalem tapered off and finally became silent. It was as if we all wanted to savor the feeling of standing together, united in the intensity of remembering.
"Names, not numbers" is my contribution to today's ABC Wednesday.