We made it to Israel in time for Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day). What a roller-coaster of emotions...
We attended the official ceremony held on Mount Herzl, a cemetery used for national figures and fallen soldiers. Itzik, my cousin's husband (and one of the nicest guys I've ever met) has an uncle buried here. The cemetery was full of people; every grave surrounded by family members. So many lives are affected...The sirens go off at 11am across the country and everything stops. People stop walking, traffic stops and people get out to stand and commemorate those who died fighting for this country and civilians who died in acts of terror. I was blown away that so many Jews can remain silent for two minutes straight...sorry, I had to throw in a joke.
Following the ceremony Itzik invited us to his grandfather's house for real, homemade falafel, a family tradition on this day. These were the BEST falafel I've ever had! The mood of the morning had started to lift. The same evening marked the start of Yom Ha'atzmaut. We went to a large celebration with fireworks, dancers, singers and a live performance by Rita, a hugely famous singer in Israel. It was truly special to celebrate the day that Jews had a country to call home.
We also managed to do some typical touristy things here. We went to the Dead Sea where we soaked in thermal pools, covered ourselves with mud and floated around in the Dead Sea.
We also made it to Jerusalem...Yerushalayem shel zahav...I love the old city because it is always full of surprises. Gadi and I have each been here many times and thought we've seen it all and yet we explored places we've never been. This is the magic of Jerusalem.