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Desk of Esther

Marking Yom HaZikaron 2017

A message from Esther Mor for Memorial Day 

April 26, 2017

 To Presidents and Chairpersons of World WIZO Federations

Dear Friends,

"May God remember the souls of His heroic children: The fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who fell in the wars of Israel, in defensive, retaliative, and security actions and during the fulfillment of their duty, including the souls of the underground fighters and brigades who fought in the national struggle - all those who sacrificed their lives for the sanctification of God's Name" (special Yizkor prayer memorializing Israel's fallen heroes).


zikaron1Next Sunday evening (30 April 2017) and Monday (1 May 2017),  Israel and the Jewish World will mark Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day for those who fell since 1860 including the Zionist paramilitary groups: Hagana, Palmach , the Irgun and Lehi.

This day unifies the citizens of Israel and the Jewish World with the memory of the state's fallen soldiers, whose sacrifice enables Israel's existence. This day is marked each year one day before Independence Day. Every Israeli and many of you, have lost someone – family members, friends, neighbours. Among the fallen are graduates of our WIZO Schools and Youth Villages and relatives of WIZO members.

Memorial Day will begin on Sunday 30 April 2017 at sundown and end at sundown the following day on Monday 1 May 2017. Its events open at 8:00pm with a one-minute siren that is heard across the country, followed by a national ceremony held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The following day, a two-minute siren is sounded across the country at 11:00am, It is followed by national memorial services held in all military cemeteries.  The central service is held at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. During the sounding of both the sirens, the entire country observes a “standstill” in which all traffic and daily activities grind to a halt. All Israelis stand in solemn and respectful silence as the sound of the sirens pierce the air.

Other ceremonies are held at memorials for the fallen, educational institutes, military bases and public institutions. The media broadcasts programmes on the fallen, their acts of bravery and their heritage. One of the government-owned television stations screens the names of all the fallen in chronological order (rank, name, Hebrew date deceased and secular date) over the course of the day. Names appear for about three seconds each. May their blessed memory be remembered, honoured and cherished down through the generations

zikaron2A special ceremony is held in the Mt. Herzl Military cemetery in Jerusalem for the fallen policemen and border guard soldiers.  A national service is held at 13:00 in memory of victims of terrorist acts, taking place at the central memorial in their honour at Mt. Herzl. 

Though not a historic religious day, a special yizkor and kaddish prayers for the fallen soldiers are read at Yom Hazikaron ceremonies. Some synagogues add special prayers to the usual evening prayers service on the eve of Yom Hazikaron.

The Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers Whose Place of Burial is Unknown was fixed by the Chief Rabbinate on the 7th of Adar, noted as the day of birth and death of the biblical figure of Moses. A plot was dedicated in their memory at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl, in which the national memorial service is held each year. The names of all soldiers in an unknown resting place are engraved on a wall built in their honour on Mt. Herzl. 

The torch-lighting ceremony at Mt. Herzl on Monday, 1 May 2017 is the closing event of the Memorial Day, and the opening ceremony for Independence Day, a reminder that for the Jewish people pain and joy are always intertwined. We remember the fallen and honour their memory, and the price they paid so that we can be a free people in our beloved Israel.

Let us also take time to think, with compassion, about the war veterans that were injured and whose physical, mental and emotional wounds never completely healed.




Esther Mor,
President, World WIZO

Photos are taken from MOD and WIkipedia