Israeli Siren Ritual

“In Israel, there is a siren to commemorate the soldiers or Holocaust victims…. The siren runs for a minute and everyone gets out of their cars and stops whatever they are doing and stand at… like… attention . The siren goes twice a year… once for Holocaust Memorial day and once for Memorial Day that is for the military.”

My friend Jessica splits her time between Israel and the United States and is a practicing Jew.  When in Israel for her first time about 15 years ago, she recalls being asked to get out of her cab when a siren was blaring near the city of Netanya.  Her father explained to her that a siren blows twice a year to commemorate those lost in the Holocaust or in the line of duty as a solider in war.  She explained that she felt connected to the country and proud to be part of a nation that honors the dead in such a physical way.  Everyone stops everything she explained.  You stop talking, you stop driving, you stand up and at attention.  Jessica feels it is an important enactment of national identity and connection to the past.

I agree with Jessica.  The siren is a sound that allows people to stop what they are doing and take a few moments to reflect on those lost and the history of her people.  It is an enactment of identity as well and only those within the group would know what that siren denotes.  This ritual maintains the unity of a people and allows ties to the past to be remembered and revered.