Independence Day at YU

By: Yudi Meltzer  |  May 9, 2017

Yom Haatzmaut

The hype of an impending Independence Day grew and inflated like a balloon, nearly erupting while classes were still in session. The phrase “No school on Tuesdaymarched through the minds of many students, creating a frenzy even a week before the holiday. A sense of euphoria settled like fog as the day approached. A folded white shirt and blue pants were set aside in preparation for a display.

As the sun rises on Tuesday morning and the preparation of Yeshiva University’s lawn are well under way, some do not participate. A few sit behind windows staring forlornly from the cushioned chairs behind their desks as young Stern students, dressed in sundresses and skirts, pile off shuttles and subways eager for the Independence Day party. The ones behind the windows glance outside and then back to their textbooks and notes, eyes twitching in curiosity. The human mind operates in images, and as these few rationalize sitting alone in their rooms studying, pictures of friends, dressed in white and blue, flash through their minds.

“Grades are important,” they think to themselves, as they watch gray smoke twist and float away from the wide BBQ grills laden with hundreds of burgers. Long tables next to the flames are piled high with soft, cheap, white buns reserved for occasions such as this one. The smoke carries smells through the cracks in the building wall, teasing the students’ nostrils as they try, with will of titanium, to twist their necks back to their books. Seconds pass like minutes and minutes seem like hours. The imagery in their minds is vivid and their imaginations are cunning. It beckons them. Now they see glasses of wine being poured into elegant tall glasses and the waiters ask the guests if they would like another hors d’oeuvre.

It’s the spirit of the day fighting all those who refuse to participate into the sweetest of submissions. Slam! The textbooks are shut with purpose. Sure, steady steps carry them to the lobby and out into the sweet, fresh air. The music reverberates against their tympanic membranes and the smells beg them to inhale deeply, expanding their tracheas and allowing them to fully sense.

Friends chat with one another and games are being played. Not a single student enjoys mingling with crowds of people they don’t know, but all attend in the hope of a new experience.

The sun sends warm rays down the shirts of the guests and the music is calming. Yet the grand feast begins the day and ends it too soon, sending hundreds of Yeshiva University college students wandering New York City in cheery moods. For some, the BBQ is merely the start, and they move in hoards to Washington Square Park where thousands leap and fall to Israeli rhythms. Others seek release in alcohol. They wander to apartments and pour drink after drink into shot glasses and red solos. Finally, there are those who must return to their haunting studies. Finals approach and no one is exempt.

Yet, people can be seen pausing every now and then as flashes of a crowd in tears stumbles through their minds. Yom Hazikaron, passed like a sun shower, and if you weren’t ready, you may have missed it. Moving words caused many to cry in memory of some who gave their lives and the many who surely will in the future.