Yom Hashoah honored by Israel with silence, sirens and contemplation

As the sirens begin to wail and continue for two full minutes, I witness people getting off their bikes, stopping in their tracks while cars and buses also halt wherever they are.  People bow their heads and I find the space to feel the loss of my father, a Holocaust survivor of eight Nazi forced labor camps, who recently died. I am in Israel. So while some may view Israel, a country bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt as a place of violence and terror, I see nothing but beauty in a land that was created for displaced Jews.  I murmur a prayer for the dead, for my father who made survival his art.

© hannah kozak

Yom Hashoah observance in Ramat Hasharon, Israel

Nine days after my father left his physical body, I booked a trip to Israel to rejuvenate and Poland to seek out my heritage, to visit my ancestral shtetl. I want to see where my father lived with his seven siblings, mother and father in a one-bedroom apartment in Bedzin, Poland in my quest as a redemption narrative, going beyond what I know.

My sojourn began in a suburb called Ramat Hasharon to be with my mother’s brothers’ family.  I spent the morning swimming with my cousin in a outdoor sea water swimming pool in the Sharon Hotel in Herzliya overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, which revitalized me from the jet lag I was in.

© hannah kozak

Mediterranean Sea from Sharon Hotel – Herzliya

Now I am part of a day to memorialize the tragedies of the Holocaust.  We stand in remembrance for our families and for those we never knew. The Knesset in Israel made Yom Hashoah a national public holiday in nineteen fifty nine and a law was passed in nineteen sixty one that closed all public entertainment on this day.

As Neo-Nazis have once again been legalized in Europe, openly sitting in parliaments, I, along with the people next to me, bow my head in silence as the tears run down my face. I needed this experience to help me feel and clear out the sadness from losing my father.

And now the best part of returning to Israel, a mission to find the best hummus. My uncle brought us to a local favorite restaurant that is on the border of Ramat Hasharon and Tel Aviv called Dagim 206. Their hummus gets a ten. Goiked!

© hannah kozak

Hummus in Ramat Hasharon

“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

About hannahkozak

I am passionate about photography & have been making photos since I was a little girl. I have been a stunt woman for twenty five years. I have a passion for exploration, discovery, and escape. I dream of every place I seek to travel to. A recovering adrenaline junkie, I seek authenticity in everyday experiences. I love Kundalini Yoga,travel, books,writing and authentic, real experiences and people. I brake for squirrels. Que le vaya bien! View all posts by hannahkozak

21 responses to “Yom Hashoah honored by Israel with silence, sirens and contemplation

  • Floyd Dillman


    Sending you love and light on your journey. Looking forward to more posts as you continue.

  • hannaes

    Yessss Hannah… your trip will be catharsis… bye H

  • Debesh

    It has been great connecting with you Hannah. Thank you for sharing your journey which I shall be following most closely, and also for sharing these words of Tolkien: ““I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” I couldn’t agree more.

    And you have rightly also said on your website that photography has the power to heal. Is it serendipity that our thoughts are the same: http://debeshsharma.com/2012/12/i-love-you/

    We’ll be in touch.



    • hannahkozak

      Photography has been a way to have a connection point and a separation to help me heal. I’m so happy it has done this for you as well, Debesh. I just read your blog. I believe it is through our our errors, our imperfections, that we learn to forgive each other over and over because none of us consciously want to hurt someone we love.

  • Debesh

    And I must confess, while I can’t even begin to fathom how you must be feeling, I had tears streaming down when I went to the Yad Vashem…

    • hannahkozak

      I visited Yad Vashem in 1980 when I lived on Kibbutz Gal-ed. I was destroyed for the day and couldn’t shake it off. I’d like to go back and see the changes they’ve made. I heard it’s now powerful to the 100th power.

  • Russ Dupont

    My wish for a peaceful and happy journey.

  • sam fielding Fielding

    Looks like an incredible start Hannah! Cannot wait to hear and see the rest xx

  • Hannah Berliner Fischthal

    I am excited about your journey. Your photographs are beautiful. I hope you will post photos of Bedzin. I also had many family members who were murdered in Bedzin and in the camps.

    • hannahkozak

      Hannah, I am editing my photos from Bedzin and will have a blog up hopefully soon. Connecting with you and our similar shared family history has been a blessing to me as I travel on my journey to Poland. I still am not able to put it into words, but I will. Bedzin is a city that has suffered tremendous loss in the past and seems to be crying still. The Jewish life flourished there…..heartbreaking to see in person what the Nazis did to this little town.

  • Colin Finlay

    The journey within is never easy, never mind navigating a way out. Once your soul has you in its gentle embrace, it likes to hold you there, hold up the mirrors for you. Return slowly, let your soul hold your outer self within, keep holding your breath….

  • hannahkozak

    Each and every thought and sentence from you is always poetic, my friend. The journey continues as I am touched by beauty each step of the way.

  • Bonnie

    Thank you for this Hannah. I have a friend in Israel. I’m going to share this with her. ❤ Wonderful and in depth blog. ❤

  • georgie scarpato

    Dearest Hannah, please forgive my tardiness in reading and replying! One a day, starting today.
    First, let me say how beautifully you write and express your inner feelings. I can only imagine how soulful this trip must be for you. Your words reach through and grab me by the hand as though you were lovingly taking me along for the journey!! So much I have to learn….thank you for teaching me. Of course, your photos, well…..you already know how I feel about your photos. Love to you, my friend!! oxo

  • hannahkozak

    Georgie girl,
    Oh, so nice to hear from you! It’s been quite a journey, inside and out. I’m grateful for our connection. Thank you.
    Much love to you, my friend. XOXO

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