Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron – Rememberance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and for Terror Victims – has no particular halachic laws. It is a day that was decreed in law by the Knesset in 1963. However the practice of commemorating this day started in 1951 to make the connection between Independence Day (which is the day after) and the people who died to achieve and maintain this freedom.

Yom Hazikaron starts at sunset and is marked with a countrywide one minute siren at 8pm. This is followed by memorial ceremonies all over the country with the official ceremony taking place at the Kotel (the Wailing Wall) with the President and other national leaders taking part.

By law all places of entertainment are closed and flags are flown at half mast. In the morning at 11am there is a second siren lasting for two minutes. During both sirens, people stop what they are doing, get out of their cars, stand up in the stoped buses etc. and pay their respects to the fallen. One custom that some people have during the sirens is to say a chapter/s of Tehillim (Psalms) quietly to themselves.

From the start of Yom Hazikaron in the evening until the beginning of Independance Day the next evening, both television and radio programmes are dedicated to and tell stories of the fallen. Most people in Israel know of someone that has a family member, friend or acquaintance that have fallen in one of Israel’s wars or in a terror attack, and therefore the day takes on a very significant meaning.

Most Shuls say in the morning prayers special prayers for the fallen.
Most workplaces are open as usual however close slightly early for people to get ready to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut – Independence day that follows.

This is written in memory of Alan Sober Z”L who died in the first Lebanon War.


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