They call them flashbulb memories, moments that come upon us suddenly and with the painful, intensity of a flashing light. The moment is then etched upon our consciousness, whether individual or collective, a picture never to be forgotten.
Most Israelis my age have a flashbulb memory of the moment when they heard that Yitzchak Rabin had been shot. I was at home with my husband, enjoying a Saturday evening Melave Malka dinner with Janet and Lenny (names have been changed). We had lots in common. They were recent immigrants to Israel from Canada, we had come some years before from the States; we were all building religious, Zionist families in this new land. Our politics differed, however. They were firmly in what would be called the “peace camp,” while we attended right wing rallies, turning them into family picnics with our kids.
I’m sitting on a stepstool, laptop balanced unsteadily on my knees. It’s Tisha B’Av eve, and I won’t be eating or drinking for the next 25 or so hours. By midday tomorrow, I’ll be allowed to sit on a normal chair, but I can’t wash my hands past the knuckles until after sundown. I can’t wear leather shoes all day either, no big deal nowadays what with Shoresh sandals or Crocs. It’s tougher not to be able to say hello or goodbye to friends and acquaintances, another sign of mourning that will mark the day