Today is Yom HaZikaron, the memorial day for fallen soldiers here in Israel. Today is a solemn day, which is taken quite seriously by the general population, and enforced by the government with mandatory closing of stores and sirens sounding in every city, both last night and this morning. If one happens to be on the road, say in a big city or on a freeway when the siren sounds for one minute, it is really quite a moving experience, as traffic stops completely and drivers get out of their cars to stand in silence. What can I say? Today is a day of such raw emotion for our country, as so many have lost sons and daughters and family members to war, in battles that we as the Jewish people never wanted to fight to begin with. When even one soldier is killed in war, our entire nation feels it, because despite the wide range of religious observance and skin color within our little group of 15 million, at the end of the day we are one people. I do think that is an important message to think about today.
The photos I'm sharing with you here were taken of a Six Day War memorial, (on one of our outings during the week of Passover), located in a beautiful spot in Ein Zeitim, an area accessed from the road between Tsfat and Meron. We came across this location quite by accident, and I really can't believe we had never been here as we pass it all the time!
As it turns out, on this site a troup from this area prepared to go into battle, which was taking place in the Golan, about an hour's drive away. The actual tank is a dramatic reminder (to me anyway) of the reality of war, as removed from it as we may be. And while as I write this it does seem a little strange to put a picnic area next to a war memorial, but somehow it works, and the location is stunning, shaded and I'd imagine generally completely empty. (Passover is the #1 busiest time as far as picnic areas, which are generally packed, and there were only two families here.)
A walk up a steep trail (not for very small children or strollers) leads one to this memorial sculpture and a gorgeous view of the Holy City of Tsfat.
Name plaques of fallen soldiers.
And again the view of Tsfat with vineyards in the forefront. Looking at this photograph I can't help but mention one aspect of ilfe here in Israel, and that is the jarring juxtaposition of a tranquility that can only be felt in this Holy Land with the harsh reality that war and those who wish evil against us are almost always nearly on our doorstep. Big sigh.
Note: This site is quite close to the gravesite of Elkana, as well as the gravesite of Rebbi Tarfon, and would be a great place to picnic when in the area. If you are traveling from Meron, just after the Safsufa junction, take a left on a little road marked with a sign that says "Meron Forrest Scenic Route" (in English!) and take that road to the gravesite of Elkana by staying or turning left, and after that you continue on down the hill and make another left. If you are traveling from Tsfat, you enter a large dirt parking area and road where the sign says Kadita, and after driving in a bit there will be a small road that goes up the hill on the left, take it and you are there! Hope that helps.