By on May 12, 2011

If there’s one potent symbol of the less-than-entirely-glamorous aspect of automobiles, it’s traffic. Our insistence on private transportation, though ultimately liberating, disconnects us from our fellow citizens, and pits us against each other as we madly pursue our individual lives. And once we’re in traffic, nothing, nothing can break us out of the every-man-for-himself dynamic that actually keeps traffic moving. Well, unless you happen to live in Israel.

Monday was the Israeli holiday of Yom Hashoah, a day of remembrance for those who died in the Holocaust, and to mark the occasion the entire nation halted its business at noon for a moment of reflection and prayer. At that moment, Israel roads ceased to be a battleground and became a place of community. The people who share each others traffic every day stopped everything and joined their fellow motorists in profound moment of unity. For such a relatively simple gesture, this video [via Hooniverse] proves that the sight of traffic coming to a halt creates an incredibly powerful message. Just try to watch without getting a few goosebumps.

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19 Comments on “When Was The Last Time You Saw Traffic Stop?...”


  • avatar

    One small correction. Yom HaShoah is not a Jewish holiday, while some synagogues may have memorial services, there’s nothing intrinsically religious about the event. It’s a legal holiday in Israel to memorialize the victims and commemorate those who resisted (it’s on the anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising). South of Tel Aviv, north of Gaza, there’s a kibbutz called Lochamei HaGhetto’ot, “Ghetto Warriors”, founded by resistance fighters. Less than three years after liberation, they found themselves the last line of defense against Egyptian tanks during the Israeli war of independence.

    What I think is noteworthy about the video is how many people pull over and stop before the sirens start and how many people get out of their cars and stand silently in respect.

    • 0 avatar

      I bow to your superior knowledge in these matters, Ronnie. Let’s call it “an Israeli holiday.”

      • 0 avatar
        dror

        It’s definitely not a holiday, in Israel we take these days very seriously, it’s a sad day, same as our memorial day, nobody is celebrating like people do in America.

      • 0 avatar

        dror, I think there’s some confusion about the word holiday. In American English, it doesn’t mean vacation like in the UK. FWIW, there are some fairly solemn events on Memorial Day in the US.

        I think that Israelis take things like Yom HaShoah V’Gvurah and your own memorial day more seriously than Americans might do on Memorial Day, but then most Israeli families have been personally impacted by the many wars since 1948, and many families have Holocaust victims and survivors in their families.

        About 3,000 people were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, out of a US population of 325 million. In the Intifada that started about 10 years ago, about 1,000 Israelis were killed, out of a population of 6 to 7 million. There were 3,000 soldiers and airmen lost in the ’73 Yom Kippur war.

        I think that Israelis take memorial events like in the video personally because they are, in many cases, memorializing some very personal events.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Try to be at any US military post at 1700 hrs for “Retreat”. If you are within hearing distance of the loudspeakers, you will stop your vehicle, get out and salute the colors.

    • 0 avatar
      obbop

      Pearl Harbor. 1975.

      Several foreign-flagged warships in the harbor.

      Their national anthems were also played.

      After 15 or so minutes of standing upright at attention with my hand scratching my brow I mentally declared “screw this” and returned to my previous walking towards the enlisted men’s club.”

      Received many stares and glares from others, both those inside their cars and those afoot but the normal “rebuttal” entered my mind…

      “What are they gonna do? Shove me into a noisy, cramped, often dangerous warship and ship me overseas for 8 or 9 months?”

      and I kept walking.

      Nobody bothered me during or after my decision to ignore odious affair (after the USA anthem and a couple others I could not identify… it seems they played the looooong version of each country’s anthem).

      However, the guys off our ship caught stealing the admirals coconuts from atop his tree a couple nights later were sent through the proverbial wringer.

      (checks calendar. 36 years… maybe out of the brig by now. Maybe).

      The admiral really liked his coconuts.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        In ’99 and after 25 years out of uniform, while cutting through for Ft. Sam Houston at 1700 hrs, I stopped the car and got out, confusing my passenger who had never been in the service. Oh well.

        Honestly – dialing back the clock a bit, it was definitely good form to stop what you were doing, ditch your cigarette, then stand at attention towards the flag during the raising and lowering of the colors.

        For anyone who hasn’t been there and done that, here is the morning raising of the colors below.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Unfortunately, this practice is not as well-practiced as it once was. When my father retired back in 1986, we lived right outside of Ft. Campbell, KY. If you were on post at 1700, you’d better have stopped your car AND gotten out to stand to, facing the direction of the bugle (and hence, the flag). Fast forward today…on certain “lesser” installations (such as the one I am assigned to), the sound of Retreat is barely heard on post, and cars rarely stop at 1700…however, during a stint at Ft. Carson last year, the entire base came to a halt as Retreat was played…soldiers and civilians. As it should be.
      The images shown above in regards to Israel are indeed stunning…

  • avatar
    65corvair

    We must never forget.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Why is it always referred to as The Holocaust, when there were many, many others?

    Also, is this stopping legally required or could one just keep moving if one chose?

    • 0 avatar

      The term was taken from the fire offerings in the Torah which were completely consumed by fire (hence holo-caust). While there have unfortunately been many genocides, to my knowledge only the Nazi attempt at exterminating Europe’s Jews was given the name Holocaust. It’s not a perfect term, since there were survivors. In Israel, they use the term Shoah, which in Hebrew means catastrophe. Another term is “churban Europa”, the European destruction.

      BTW, I did a little math and in terms of death rate, the genocide in Ruwanda was probably the most horrific, with a million people killed in about 100 days. From the start of the mass killings by the Nazis with machine guns and mobile gas vans (Einsatzgroupen) to the Allied victory, the Nazis murdered about 4,000 Jews a day on average, plus a slightly lower number of non-Jews, though only Jews and Gypsies were specifically targeted for extermination. I don’t know what term the Roma/Gypsies have for the German’s attempt to wipe them out.

      No, it’s not legally required for people to stop driving but in general Israeli Jews stop whatever they’re doing. People stop walking, working, whatever they’re doing, not just driving. I suppose that someone could keep moving and I’m sure that not many Israeli Arabs observe the commemoration, but enough Israeli Jews have had personal family members killed by the Nazis that open defiance of the social practice would result is some manner of pushback. Even in the elements of the orthodox Jewish community that doesn’t embrace Zionism, they stand in memory, in part because so many chareidi and chassidic Jews have survivors and victims in their families.

      • 0 avatar
        Acc azda atch

        Ronnie Shreiber:

        Thank you personally for that bit of reflection.

        I wish I was in Israel to join others like me.. for that time when ya stop and observe. When everyone.. everywhere recognizes how important it is to be in Israel and to be a Jewish person.

        Sometimes…. in the U.S
        I see people get too lackadaisical. Often with many not sharing the same thoughts or moments in history that are important, or doing things for the movement alone. (Various holidays, often with no thought than a local sale.)

        Makes me wish…
        I could go visit.

      • 0 avatar
        kid cassady

        The Roma refer to the Holocaust as the Porajmos.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Why is it always referred to as The Holocaust, when there were many, many others?

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_did_the_Holocaust_get_its_name

    “Also, is this stopping legally required or could one just keep moving if one chose?”

    No, it is a matter of respect and conscience.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    That was unbelievably powerful. And cool.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’ve never seen anything like that; thanks for sharing such a moving video.

    However, that pause strikes me as a security risk for a nation which must remain eternally vigilant. Sadly, the same feelings that motivated the Nazis are now embodied in modern terrorists.

    I, too, am impressed with how orderly the traffic interruption was. Is there also a radio broadcast of this event, which may have tipped off the drivers before the sirens started?

  • avatar
    friedclams

    What an amazing video.

    I like how the second the siren stops, the motorcyclist jumps back on his bike hellbent for leather. Back to normal.


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