Today is Israel’s Remembrance Day. Unlike Memorial Day in the United States, where the focus is on a day off of work, picnics and parades – in Israel the focus is on those who have died, their families and their loved ones. When I lived in Israel and attended the National Ceremony, it was a powerful and moving time. Because of the small size of Israel and the fact that nearly every Israeli serves in the military, most families in Israel have an extended family member within the current and past generations have lost someone. One of the more poignant moments is the 3 minute siren. A siren is blown and the whole country stops. Everyone rises where they are seated and thinks of the too many who have sacrificed their lives for the State of Israel and its freedoms. Cars and buses stop and pull over, their occupants getting out or rising in their seats. All are acutely aware of the sacrifices made and the numbers lost. So powerful that even though the last time I heard the siren was years ago, it still stands out in my memory. Still I remember the warm tears on my cheeks, tears which glistened on the faces of many.
Israeli Government official Site for Yom haZikaron/Remembrance Day, including a link to the prayer in remembrance of the fallen soldiers, read aloud in Hebrew (and fully vocalized).
Letters to the families of the deceased soldiers throughout the years.
The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) website on Memorial Day has a prayer and information.
Programming ideas for Yom Hazikaron can be found at Hillel’s site.
This year the lives and deaths of 20,196 soldiers are remembered since the birth of the State of Israel, especially remembering the 184 soldiers who died in the past year.