Jewish: Israel’s Memorial Day is Yom HaZikaron

SUNDOWN, SATURDAY, APRIL 17: Israel’s solemn observance of Yom HaZikaron is a national Memorial Day recalling soldiers killed in battle and also victims of terrorism. This holiday is one of four holidays added to the Jewish calendar after the establishment of the State of Israel. (Read more at the Jewish Virtual Library.)

The observance is closely related to Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Isreali Independence Day, which follows in the Israeli calendar each year. For the remembrances of Yom HaZikaron, all Israeli places of public entertainment are closed for 24 hours and, during the day, moments of silence are marked by sirens. Both radio and television stations broadcast programs that focus on the lives and stories of fallen soldiers. (My Jewish Learning has details.)

Since many soldiers of the original Israeli War for Independence (1948) have fewer and fewer surviving immediate family members, many now remember soldiers who have died in subsequent wars. Soldiers and others gather in military cemeteries for public recitation of prayers, and the official ceremony takes place at the Western Wall. (A general explanation is at Wikipedia.)

A poem written during the 1948 War, entitled “Silver Platter,” was the most common reading at Yom Hazikaron ceremonies during the 1950s and ’60s. Read it here.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, you can click the “Our Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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