Observing days dedicated to the military is a significant affair in any country, and for Israel, this is marked by Yom Hazikaron. This is their military day for fallen soldiers and was part of the law to recognize it in Israel since 1963. It is known as the Official memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. So, how did this day become so significant, and how is it observed?
When Is Yom Hazikaron?
It falls in late April or early May every year, and is a time for the respectful observance. There are times of silence to pay respects and it lasts from sundown to sundown every year. Its start is signified by a minute-long siren at 8:00 (sundown). This marks a minute’s silence and stillness by all, no matter what they are doing, or where they are.
In the evening, the signaling of the State ceremony takes place. This is held in Jerusalem, at the western wall. At 11:00 the next day, the siren sounds again, this time for two minutes, and the public observes with another silence. After this time, there are numerous celebrations and ceremonies across the country to remember the fallen.
Later in the day, on Mount Herzl, a state ceremony marks the end of the celebrations and is held between 19:00 and 20:00. It also signifies the start of Yom Haaztmaut, otherwise known as Israel’s Independence Day. This is a day of celebration and significantly starts the day after recognizing the sacrifices made by so many for Israel.
Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut are linked out of respect for the fact that without the sacrifices made by the fallen, Israel would not have its independence.
Is Yom Haizkaron A Public Holiday?
It is not. Businesses tend to have the same working hours as normal during this time.
What Are The Customs Of Yom Hazikaron?
The solemn mood of the day is reflected in the ceremonies throughout the city and around the world. It is common for schools and synagogs to read the names of fallen soldiers aloud, and families often do the same at home. This can be where the names of fallen family members are read and respect is paid. This is a time for loved ones to pay tribute but also to make charitable donations to organizations close to the military for families who have lost.
The practice of remembering a loved one takes on other forms in Judaism and families may visit the gravestones of those fallen and a place beside the grave.
As well as this, there are prayers read and poems recited in relation to the importance of the day, and the fallen.
How To Observe Yom Hazikaron?
In Israel, the sirens will signify the time to observe the fallen. This is where families eating dinner, drivers on the highway, workers in an office, and pedestrians on the street will all stop and pay their respects via a minute or two-minute silence. This is a stark contrast to Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) where there are fireworks, barbeques, and a celebratory mood throughout the country.
The first way to observe the day from outside of Israel would be to observe the silences at the same time. At 20:00 there is a two-minute silence held. This is an appropriate time to stand still, and consider the fallen. Some people choose to make a donation to a military charity on this day in honour of those who gave their lives.
Another good way to observe the day is to participate in remembering with the local Jewish community. Many will gather on this day to pay their respects in their own way. There may even be a ceremony being held nearby, so it is a good time to check on what the Jewish community may have planned for Yom Hazikaron.
There are different prayers that can be recited in relation to the day, with one of the most commonly repeated on this day being “A prayer for Israel”. This is a poignant reminder of what the military fallen gave their lives for.