Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Israeli Memorial Day = In Sofia

Monday night marked the start of Israel's Memorial day for soldiers who gave their lives to build and protect our country and for the victims of terror attacks. This is always a day that is felt very strongly in Israel, and at Neve Ilan, we participated in the annual ceremony that took place on the hill at 8:00 pm, when the siren was sounded and called us to attention. It was difficult to think of being far from home at this time, and not to be a part of this national experience, and the personal one at home, where we also remember Danny Wein from Neve Ilan, who was killed while in the army over 20 years ago.

Therefore, we were very pleased when we received the invitation through Ellis's office, to attend a Memorial Service at the home of the Israeli Ambassador to Bulgaria. Along with 12 Israeli colleagues, we arrived at the Ambassador's home in an attractive neighborhood at the edge of Sofia. We could tell we were at the right place, as we could see a police car by the house, and security guards at the entrance. It was like walking into a small part of Israel in Bulgaria - all around us we heard Hebrew being spoken and we were surrounded by Israelis of different ages, including familes with young children. There were also Bulgarians from the local Jewish community.

The ceremony took place in the front garden of the Ambassador's home. After observing a minute of silence (obviously, without the siren that is heard in Israel), the flag was lowered to half-mast, and a torch was lit. There were prayers and poems read - in both Hebrew and Bulgarian. It was strange to hear Hannah Seneshe's poem - "Eli, Eli" read also in Bulgarian. A rabbi from the local Habbad house sang "El, Maleh Rachamim". The Ambassador also spoke briefly, and in the end, we all sang "Hatikva".

After the ceremony, everyone was invited into the Ambassador's home for coffee and cookies (served on official State of Israel china). A woman approached us and said that she didn't recognize us from previous events, so we introduced ourselves, and she introduced herself as the Israeli consul in Bulgaria. She asked us if we had met the Ambassador yet, and she brought us over to introduce us to him. We had a very pleasant talk with him. As Ellis had read his resume on the Embassy website beforehand, we knew that he had also been Ambassador in Uzbekistan - which led us to ask him if he knew our friend from the army who had also been Ambassador of Uzbekistan. He had actually recomended that our friend replace him when he left - they had gone through the diplomatic training together and were friends! A small world...

2 comments:

  1. Hey,
    I'm actually back in Bulgaria now. I would be great to meet you both.
    You were in Vratsa the day before I moved here! What are the odds?

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  2. I do moderate my comments. Feel free to send me your e-mail address by comment. I won't publish it to the page.

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