Yom HaZikaron - Israel's National Memorial Day for the Fallen
Yom HaZikaron is Israel's memorial day for its fallen soldiers. It is usually observed on the 4th of the Jewish calendar month of Iyar.On the evening preceding Yom HaZikaron and again, in the morning, a siren wails throughout Israel and everyone pauses for the one minute duration of the siren. Traffic grinds to a halt, and both pedestrians and drivers stand at attention silently, contemplating the sacrifices made for this country still struggling for survival.
Throughout the country, special services are held in honor of the fallen soldiers. The military cemeteries overflow with grieving families and friends, and others wishing to pay their respects to heroes who gave their lives defending the State of Israel. It is a day commemorating the loss of all men and women who died for Israel, whether they served in the IDF, Israel's armed services, or were victims of acts of terror.
Jews outside of Israel feel Israel's loss too - as it says in the Talmud, "Kol Yehudim areivim zeh lezeh" ("All Jews are responsible for one another"). Many light memorial candles, give tzedaka (charity) or learn Torah on behalf of the fallen soldiers, or study the history of the Jewish State.
Tzahal - The Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
The following prayer is recited in synagogues everywhere in the world, each Shabbat, asking that G-d protect the soldiers of the State of Israel:
"May He who blessed our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, who keep guard over our country and cities of our L-rd. From the border with Lebanon to the Egyptian desert, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the approach to the Arava, be they on land, air or sea.
May the Almighty deliver us our enemies who arise against us, may the Holy One, blessed be He, preserve them and save them from all sorrow and peril, from danger and ill. May He send blessing and success in all their endeavors, may He deliver to them those who hate us and crown them with salvation and victory, so that the saying may be fulfilled through them, "For the L-rd, your G-d, who walks with you and to fight your enemies for you and to save you", and let us say, Amen."
Often, Yom HaZikaron is marked by a ceremony of commemoration. The following is an outline of a typical Yom HaZikaron ceremony which you could adapt for your student union or community.
Flags at half mast
Speech - Master of Ceremonies
Speech - Guest
Shadow images/ performance
Yizkor for the fallen
Prayer for the State of Israel and for the IDF
Yom HaZikaron reminds us of the high human cost of the wars Israel has fought for its survival. This day of mourning and sadness turns to one of jubilation as the sun sets, and the celebrations for Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day, begin.
Also on the WUJS site:
Yom HaZikaron Ceremony.
This year's dates for Yom HaZikaron can be found in our WUJS Year Mapper.