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Yom Hazikaron - Israeli Memorial Day

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Yom Hazikaron

Israeli Memorial Day

Zakhar (זָכַר) is the Hebrew word for "remember," and Zikaron is the word for memorial. Yom HaZikaron (יוֹם הַזִּכָּרוֹן), then, is the Day of Memorial, or Memorial Day. 

The Israeli Knesset established Iyyar 4, the day before Israel's Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) as a Memorial Day for soldiers who gave up their lives in battle for the creation and defense of the State of Israel. In this way the Israeli government made it clear that without the sacrifice of the soldiers who gave their lives, there would be no Israeli state to celebrate.

In Israel, Yom Hazikaron is a somber day.  Beginning at sunset (on the day before), all places of entertainment are closed by civil law. Many Israelis attend memorial ceremonies for relatives and friends who died in combat. Many schools provide commemoration services for former students who have died serving their country. Radio and television stations are devoted to broadcasting programs about the lives and heroic deeds of fallen Israeli soldiers.

Like Yom HaShoah, air raid sirens are sounded twice during the day. All activity, including traffic, immediately ceases. People get out of their cars and stand in respect for the sacrifice of those who died defending Israel. The first siren (in the evening, at 8:00 pm) marks the beginning of Memorial Day and the second (the following morning at 11:00 am) is sounded immediately prior to the public recitation of kaddish in military cemeteries.

Since the Arab intifada, many Jews have extended Yom Hazikaron to remember not only soldiers who died defending Israel but also security personnel who gave their lives to protecting Israelis from terrorist attacks.

Tzahal - The Israel Defense Forces (IDF)


The following prayer is recited in many synagogues each Shabbat, asking that God 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 Lord. 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 Lord, your God, who walks with you and to fight your enemies for you and to save you", and let us say, Amen."

    Courtesy of OU.ORG

The Date for Yom HaZikaron

It should be noted that the date for Yom HaZikaron can vary from year to year. For instance, it may be moved earlier if the observance of Independence Day (which always follows it) falls on a Sabbath. In addition, if Yom HaZikaron falls on a Sunday, it is always postponed to the following Monday (in order to set the day apart for schools and businesses). As always, if in doubt, check a reputable Jewish calendar...

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