From a day of remembrance and mourning into a day of joy and celebration.
Jewish and Israel education is integrated into the daily life of Yemin Orde Youth Village and experienced in a real, vibrant and meaningful way. While some youth are still quarantined and social distancing remains, everyone commemorated Israel's Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron) and Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut) either remotely or in smaller groups called "family capsules" at the Village.
All youth, in some way, shared in the inspiring programs and festivities taking place at Yemin Orde.
Yom HaZikaron honors Israeli veterans, fallen soldiers, and all its citizens who were killed by acts of terrorism. It is a day observed with moments of silence and ceremonies at cemeteries and official venues across Israel.
At Yemin Orde, youth who have remained at the Village from the start of Israel's shelter-in-place order are divided into small groups called "family capsules." For Yom HaZikaron, each family capsule researched and wrote about the life of a fallen Israeli soldier.
In the evening, keeping with social distancing guidelines, small groups gathered at the amphitheater for a somber music program, with special songs by the Village's youth and its music director, Hananel Ohana, and remarks by staff.
"Though social distancing is the norm these days, it is not by choice. We, at the Village, make sure that our usual norm remains as a community." said Racheli Yaso-Ngatuo, Yemin Orde's Director of Visitor Relations and Outreach. "All of us in the Village remember and honor the heroes and their families. Though we are not all here physically, we remember them using all possible platforms - and, of course, with our hearts." Racheli lives in the Village with her husband and four sons.
Youth created artwork and wrote messages about fallen soldiers whose lives and bravery resonated with them.
- Talya: "I think that when we realize that our actions affect other people, we suddenly find strength in ourselves that we wouldn't have found if we were doing only for ourselves. For example, when a soldier risks his life for his fellow soldiers or even in our daily life with our friends and family - we are doing things for their sake."
- Rachel: "I relate to what the soldier said because in my own life there were times I wanted to give up but I didn’t because of the people in my life. I think that if a person hurts himself, the people in his life are also hurt by his actions."
- Eliron: "His words make me think of family and friends because when you have people in your life, you can't afford to give up."
Below is a gallery of artwork created by Yemin Orde's youth in memory of fallen soldiers.
From left to right: Shilo Simon-Tov z"l; Sean Nisim Carmeli z"l; Roei Klein z"l; Yanai Weismann z"l
Immediately following a day of mourning, Israel turns to celebration. Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, is marked by parties, barbecues, and outdoor concerts. At Yemin Orde, while maintaining social distancing for "family capsules" and quarantine guidelines for recently returned youth, celebrations looked a bit different this year.
For youth who remain under quarantine, staff brought the festivities to them by way of a car parade with music and dancing - all from a distance. The main Independence Day ceremony took place outside on the basketball court with small groups of youth participating in a torch lighting and flag ceremony.
Shmuli Bing shared a short history lesson on the miracle of the State of Israel's existence. How a dramatic decision in 1948 led to this day of independence because many countries did not support the establishment of Israel up until the last minute.
"Let's not take for granted the fact that we are all here from all over the world living, learning and building a future together," Shmuli Bing said.