Thursday, July 17, 2008

From sorrow to joy in record time

Last week, most of the country was glued to the news as we watched or heard about the return of the Israeli soldiers Regev and Goldvasser by Hizbulla, in exchange for their terrorist prisoners.

Although the facts all pointed to the fact that they were probably not alive, we all still wanted to belive that maybe there was hope, maybe they'd come home alive. When the 2 black coffins were shown on the tv screen, it was clear that there was really no reason for celebration. The whole country lapsed into a state of mourning, and all day I was glued to internet news or tv or radio to hear updates.

Fast forward...later that same day.

That evening, we went to a wedding. One that had obviously been planned and set months and months in advance, with no idea what news that morning would bring. I thought to myself how terrible for the couple that this very sad news happened today, that this will be what they remember of their wedding date, and how can people rejoice after something like that happens.

But the amazing thing about Israelis is how resilient they are. Just as the people of this country know when to unite in their strength and sorrow, they also know that joyous occasions must be celebrated with a whole heart.

It was a Yemenite wedding, with beautiful vocal song before the ceremony, the bride and groom yemenite stepping right up to the huppa, and non stop dancing, yemenite and other. And people were so happy -- happy to have a reason to be happy.

It's the circle of life, I suppose, the events we mark and measure our lives against and hope that joy will come sooner and more often than sorrow.

This cycle is apparent in so many Jewish/Israeli customs. Breaking the glass at weddings, to remember the destruction of the Temple before the real celebration begins. Israeli Memorial Day and Independence Day - a kind of bipolar holiday - when the lowest of lows are followed by the highest of highs. Although the manic-depressive nature of these customs is emotionally draining, the logic is there. Remember your losses in order to appreciate your wins.

I suppose the harsh reality is that people here are used to it, if that's ever possible. Let's just hope that reasons to celebrate outnumber anything else...

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