Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Second Yom Haatzmaut update:

This was one of the best days ever!

Traditionally, Israelis have a "mangal" on Independence Day. I went to one hosted by my friend Noa at Gan Hapaamon (Liberty Bell Park), in conjunction with Nefesh B'Nefesh. I'd say that overall there were about 70 people there, though not all at the same time. From about 1:30 until around 5:30 I hung out, met new people, lay in the shade, and ate grilled meat (some of you already know that I am a big fan of "fleish"). Yum!

The park, by the way, was FULL of Israelis having picnics and barbecues. It was something else. I hate to think how many cows sacrificed their lives for this. But it smelled incredible. And the weather was perfect. It felt like a wonderful high-70's, low-80's kinda day. Gorgeous!

As one person wrote in response to Noa's evite about the event "Od lo avda mangaleinu; hamangal bat shnot alpayim . . . " (Apologies to those who don't know the Israeli national anthem. The joke would lose something in the explanation.)

Then I went with Noa and her boyfriend, David, to the Museum of the Underground for a "Living History" festival. Usually this takes place in Yemin Moshe, but apparently for security reasons they moved it to this more-easily-protected site. The Museum of the Underground is on the site of the prison used by the British for Israeli and Arab fighters in the Mandate period; it's basically a shrine to the Irgun, Palmach, and Lechi.

The whole thing was a little weird to me; Beth said to me afterward, when we were talking about the museum, "It just reminds me that the only difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is who wins." I don't think that's entirely true, since my understanding is that freedom fighters only target soldiers while terrorists target civilians, but the point is still there, and it still makes me uncomfortable.

In addition to all the regular museum exhibits, they'd also moved in the "Live History" component that usually takes place in Yemin Moshe. Lots of young actors in 1948-style clothing, dressed as British people, Jews of '48, Arabs, and prisoners of the prison-turned-museum, acting out various events that took place within the prison and outside. Near the parking lot were a bunch of fancily-dressed (1948-style) "British" people explaining to the children what the British mandate was and the events of 1948. In the courtyard of the museum were people singing the songs of the resistance, and showing how Jews in Palestine passed the time. The whole thing had a strange "Renaissance Faire that's not" quality to it. But I did get cotton candy, which I haven't had for years. Yum!

I skipped the singalong for 2,000 people, because I was tired and cold and had to go to the bathroom. I hope I'll be able to go to it next year.

Overall, a fabulous day, one to be remembered and cherished: My first Yom Haatzmaut as an Israeli citizen!

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