Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron

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Yom Hazikaron is Israel's official Memorial Day. In 2011, Israel honored the memory of soldiers killed in the line of duty and the civilian casualties too.

Observance



Yom Hazikaron is the day on which Israel honors its fallen servicemen and women. National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel's top leadership and military personnel. The day opens with a siren the preceding evening at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

 system, the day begins at sunset. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything (including driving, which stops highways) and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect. Many religious Jews say prayers for the souls of the fallen soldiers at this time. The official ceremony to mark the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

, and the flag of Israel
Flag of Israel
The flag of Israel was adopted on October 28, 1948, five months after the country's establishment. It depicts a blue Star of David on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes...

 is lowered to half staff.

A two-minute siren is heard at 11:00 the following morning, which marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at each cemetery
Cemetery
A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. The term "cemetery" implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world are where the final ceremonies of death are observed...

 where soldiers are buried. Many Israelis visit the resting places of loved ones throughout the day. The day officially draws to a close between 19:00 and 20:00 (7–8 p.m.) with the official ceremony of Israel Independence Day on Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl , also Har HaZikaron , is the national cemetery of Israel on the west side of Jerusalem. It is named for Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. Herzl's tomb lies at the top of the hill. Yad Vashem, which commemorates the Holocaust, lies to the west of Mt. Herzl....

, when the flag of Israel
Flag of Israel
The flag of Israel was adopted on October 28, 1948, five months after the country's establishment. It depicts a blue Star of David on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes...

 is returned to full staff.

Scheduling Yom Hazikaron right before Yom Ha-Atzma'ut is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved with the soldiers' sacrifice. This transition shows the importance of this day among Israelis, most of whom have served in the armed forces or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.

Date


Yom Hazikaron is observed on the 4th day of the month of Iyar
Iyar
Iyar is the eighth month of the civil year and the second month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. The name is Babylonian in origin. It is a spring month of 29 days. Iyar usually falls in April–June on the Gregorian calendar.In the Hebrew Bible, before the Babylonian Exile, the...

 of the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

, always one day before Israel Independence Day On the 5th day of Iyar, the anniversary of the Proclamation of the State of Israel
Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
The Israeli Declaration of Independence , made on 14 May 1948 , the day before the British Mandate was due to expire, was the announcement by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, that the new Jewish state named the...

 in 1948. Both holidays are observed one or two days earlier (the 3rd and 4th, or the 2nd and 3rd, of Iyar) when the 5th occurs on a Friday or Saturday, the Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

. Similarly, both days are moved one day later when Yom Hazikaron falls on Sunday. During the first year of Israel's existence, politicians were unable to agree on a date for a memorial day. As the year came to a close without a decision, the memorial day was celebrated on Israel's first independence day (1949), and the same arrangement was made the following year (1950). Celebrating the holidays together proved difficult both logistically and emotionally, so in 1951, following the recommendation of a public commission, the memorial day was moved one day back. This arrangement was enacted into law in 1963.

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