I don't remember יום השואה והגבורה from Nativ - I think we may have stayed on קיבוץ - and, regardless of that experience, being here sans educational structure (not that Nativ provided such a great educational structure) provides a different type of experience. Yesterday afternoon I could palpably feel the city slowing down, and by the time I walked home from an afternoon of bowling with the family that hosted me in Bethlehem (that should be a different post), some of the restaurants around עמק רפאים were already closed. T and I went to יקר last night to here a שיעור on the אש קודש, a Hasidic Rabbi (Kalonymus Kalman Shapira) who taught Torah in the Warsaw ghetto before his death in the Holocaust (also its own, possibly forthcoming post). On the walk home the streets were almost Shabbat- or Chag-evening quiet, with a 24 hour מכולת and סופר במושבה the only open storefronts. Perhaps most powerfully - the treif restaurants on עמק are also closed. At home I spent most of the evening doing work in front of Holocaust movies and documentaries - there was nothing else on.
In Israel, at least, the ability to create an environment around a memorial day (at least at night, which seems easier to do than during the following workday - although the rhythm of ערב, then בקר might make this easier as well [like Christmas and New Year's]) is impressive.
2 hours ago