What is Yom HaZikaron and when do we observe it?
The name ‘Yom HaZikaron’ means ‘remembrance day’. It is the day on which we remember those who fell in battle with the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) defending the State of Israel. Jews around the world hold ceremonies in solidarity with those who are mourning in the State of Israel.
The name originates in one of the alternate names for Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day of the Jewish year.
Yom HaZikaron takes place on the day before Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel’s Independence day), on the 4th Iyar in the Hebrew calendar.
How do we observe Yom HaZikaron?
In Israel Yom HaZikaron is a day of mourning and a siren is sounded twice throughout the country. The siren is sounded first in the evening to mark the beginning of Yom haZikaron (since Jewish days begin in the evening), and again for two minutes at 11 a.m. (immediately after this second siren official ceremonies remembering the fallen will begin). Yom haZikaron is very widely observed in Israel and, for example, cars stop during the siren and people get out of their cars and stand respectfully while the siren sounds (the video below shows people in a busy Jerusalem pedestrian thoroughfare stopping for the Yom haZikaron siren). People also gather at memorial sites or military cemeteries to mourn their family and friends.
At the close of the day, the siren sounds once more and the festival of Yom Ha’atzma’ut begins. Within minutes, the music on the radio changes from songs of loss to songs of joy.
On Yom HaZikaron, communities around the Jewish world include special prayers for the welfare of the State of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in their synagogue services.
There is an official prayer for the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) composed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel which is said on Yom haZikaron.
Links to other Sites & Pages about Yom HaZikaron
Ahavat Israel: Wars in Israel
The Land of Israel: Israel Memorial Day – The Pain of a Mother (video, 26 minutes 23 seconds)
My Jewish Learning: Yom HaZikaron – Israel’s Memorial Day
My Jewish Learning: Yom HaAtzma’ut Liturgy
Virtual Jewish Library: Yom ha-Zikaron