Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s Memorial Day. It remembers soldiers who fell during their military services, and those killed in terrorist attacks throughout Israel’s history. Today we remember people who made a very important sacrifice on Yom HaZikaron 2017.
The Hebrew date is the 4th of the month of Iyar. Like Jewish holidays and other Israeli national holidays it begins in the preceding evening.
That is important for Yom HaZikaron because the very next day is Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
What happens on Israeli Memorial Day, especially on Yom HaZikaron 2017?
The government holds a national memorial at the Western Wall (the only standing remnant from the Second Temple) in the evening of Yom HaZikaron.
There are memorials held at cemeteries and military bases throughout the country. A siren is sounded at 8:00 PM marking the beginning of Memorial Day.
The next morning a second siren is sounded at 10:00 AM. Israelis stand silent during both sirens to remember those they knew who fell during their military service or killed in a terrorist attack. Again, like on Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day, Israelis wear white shirts.
Store owners and other workforce sources close these places as well. Many families go to visit the cemetery where their loved one is buried. Israelis take the time to remember the sacrifices their family, friends, and fellow Israelis made to defend their country.
It is important to understand that military service is mandatory for Israeli citizens. Men serve for three years from the age of eighteen to twenty-one.
Women serve for two years from the age of eighteen to twenty. So many, many Israelis knew someone who died during their military service.
Because of mandatory military service and the numbers of people who knew friends and family who died during service, Memorial Day is a very somber day in Israel.
Once the sun sets, the atmosphere changes with the beginning of Independence Day.
What differences can we draw between Israel’s Memorial Day and the U.S.’s Memorial Day?
There are several differences between Israel’s Memorial Day and the United States’ Memorial Day. When we look at the differences, we can better understand what the day means to each country.
In the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day with a day off from school, parades including veterans from different wars, and barbeques. Some stores have sales in honor of the day.
In my hometown, World War II veteran (as well as veterans from the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the War in Afghanistan and Iraq) participated in the parade.
When he and the other veterans passed, people watching the parade stood, saluted them, and applauded them for their service in the American Armed Forces.
There are somber memorials, after the parade. But overall, it is a victorious atmosphere. Victorious that the veterans we saw in the parade have come home, victorious for the wars the United States.
Israel’s overall atmosphere is a serious, somber one. Israel is a small country with tense relations with her neighbors for a long time. Some of those relationships still exist. The United States is an enormous country with only two countries bordering her. Relations with Mexico and Canada are peaceful ones.
Wars for Israel are much closer to home, both physically and in terms of survival. As mentioned above, almost everyone in Israel knew someone killed in a war, military operation, or terrorist attack.
While many in the United States know someone in the Armed Forces, not many Americans from younger generations know someone who died during their service.
Personal connections on Yom HaZikaron
I would like to take this opportunity to share a personal connection to Israel’s Memorial Day, today on Yom HaZikaron 2017.
There was a young man living in Ashkelon, teaching school children, and raising a young family. He loved Israel very much, always traveling to see the land, the plants, and the animals.
In 1975, the young man left his wife and small children to serve his military reserve duty. He prepared his younger sister to take over his class while he was away.
With the holiday of Tu B’Shvat coming up, she was going to teach a song about trees. It was a year after the Yom Kippur War, and so it was supposed to be a routine reserve duty.
But it was quite the opposite. The next day at his military base, the young man prepared a car to leave the base on a military trip. Shortly after leaving the base, the vehicle was in a car accident. The young man never made it home. The accident killed him.
His name was Yosef Cohen. He was my husband’s uncle. My husband never met his uncle, neither did Yosef’s grandchildren. But every year his family attends the memorial service at his military base on Israel’s Memorial Day and visits his greave on Mount Herzl on the anniversary of his death.
He is remembered by his seven brothers and sisters, two daughters, two grandchildren, and twelve nieces and nephews.
Samantha Israel Tours will remember his love for Israel and nature, and his service to the state of Israel.
Samantha Israel Tours remembers more fallen soldiers and victims of terror in Israel as well.
In conclusion of Yom HaZikaron 2017…
Israel’s Memorial Day is a time we take time to remember the ultimate sacrifice people gave for the state of Israel- their life.
Whether it was during their military service or in a terrorist attack. Israel comes together as a community to support each other and honor their friends and family, to understand the cost of surviving as a nation.
In honor of Yom HaZikaron 2017, please comment below about what your country, community, or family does on Memorial Day.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a journey relating to Yom HaZikaron, check Samantha Israel Tours.