Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day -- a very sad day when we recall the horrors of Hitler's attempt to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth.
I didn't see it myself, but I'm told that even CNN -- can you imagine --ran a little news items about it, showing a street in Jerusalem at 10:00 am. At that hour, a siren sounds -- one long mournful blast -- and for two minutes, all over Israel, all activity ceases.
If you're walking, you stop. If you're driving, you get out of the car and stand. If you're shopping, or in your home, or playing a game, you stop. All activity ceases.
It always amazes me that it still happens, that Israelis of every age, ethic background, degrees of religiosity or sympathy for the Jewish state, still honor this custom, and with such respect. After all, very few of the people who have personal memories of that horrific event are still with us. For the overwhelming majority, this is a sad occasion we’d heard others talk about. We don't remember it personally.
But when the siren sounded yesterday, a funny thing happened in my house. I happened to be at home, working at the computer. As I heard the beginning of the siren blast, I was astonished to see both my dogs -- Molly Goldberg, the mostly-Border Collie, and Rachel, the mostly-poodle -- jump up from their snoozing spots on the sofa and run for the kitchen.
What on earth was going on? But there they sat, the two of them, grinning, tails wagging, right in front of the red chair.
And then I remembered. The siren that calls us to stop and remember the horrors of the Shoah is the same siren that -- just a few weeks ago -- was blasting several times a day, warning us of incoming missiles fired by Arab terrorists.
After the first days last December when we were under attack, I got tired of having to run out into the yard to catch the dogs each time the siren sounded. But I didn’t want them out in the open yard, either. True, being in the house didn't offer any real protection at all -- I don't have a safe room, or anything even minimally reinforced. But still, the kitchen is smaller, it doesn't have many windows, and – irrational as it may be -- it just felt safer.
So for many weeks, at the first sound of the siren, I found a way to get the dogs into the house without my having to chase them.
I put a bowl of dog treats right next to the red chair -- my place to sit and wait out the incoming missile siren. As soon as it was over, I gave the dogs a treat.
It worked. The dogs learned to run into the kitchen when the siren sounded.
So yesterday? They heard the siren, and ran for the red chair. They wanted a treat.
From a dog's perspective, I guess it doesn't matter who's trying to kill us -- it may have been the Germans and their allies back in the 1940's, or it might be our Arab neighbors today.
Come to think of it, there really isn't much difference, is there?