Today we left our host families in Netanya. I stayed with good friends from whom my family had previously hosted one of their kids. We didn’t have a lot of time with them, but it was still good to see them for at least a short time. After leaving, we met with the rest of the delegates at a high school in Netanya. We met the Chaverim and watched a ceremony for Yom HaZikaron. Hearing from many different speakers was difficult because very few of us understand Hebrew, but everyone could sense the emotion with which they spoke. One speaker directly addressed our group from Cincinnati, and in English, so we all could understand both the words and the impact we have had on the community. We then traveled to tel-aviv and ate Pizza Hut on the way. Tel Aviv was incredible. We checked into our hotel and immediately went to the beach. The weather was perfect as it seems to always be in Israel. After about two hours of playing volleyball and matkot, drinking iced coffees, and basking in the sun, we went back to the hotel. Everyone showered and got dressed and ready for a night in Tel Aviv for Yom HaAtzmaut.
Today we all experienced the holiday of Yom HaZikaron with our host families and attended a ceremony at a school in Netanya. Yom HaZikaron is very similar to Memorial Day in the United States where we honor fallen soldiers and spend the day in remembrance, however, today was very different. We learned today that because everyone in Israel serves in the Israeli Defense Forces, everyone in Israel has a connection to someone who is lost, which in turn makes the holiday more significant for each and every Israeli. These emotions are not universal in the United States and so standing for the sirens with the entire county as one really sent a wave of solidarity which carried on into our celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut in the evening. The entire country went from mourning to celebration which is symbolic for remembering the fallen soldiers then praising the land every Israeli fights for. This day was very important to every one of us and helped us gain a different perspective on something we are familiar with in terms of holidays between the two countries and because of this day, to remember will hold more meaning than ever.