Israel's National Memorial Day for the Fallen
and the Victims of Terror
Date: 4th Iyar
Meaning: Remembrance Day
Every country has its day of remembrance, and Israel - whose creation and survival as a state has been marked by so many losses - decided to designate the day preceding Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Independence Day, as its day of commemoration for the fallen. On this day, we recall and mark the pain of our recent and not so recent losses in public and in private.
The term "Yom Hazikaron" originates in another name for Rosh Hashana, the Day of Remembrance marked by repentance and prayer and signals the beginning of the 9 Days of Awe. Each individual reviews his or her own deeds, hoping also to be inscribed for a good year in the year to come.
The Jewish people is a people of collective memory: "Remember the Act of Creation", "Remember the Exodus from Egypt". In each generation, we retain the memories and the link to those alive who carry them. Today, we are coming to the end of one era, when the generation who survived the Shoah [Holocaust] and saw the establishment of the Jewish state is disappearing. With them, will go the personal memory and these crucial events will become part of the collective memory, whose meaning will continue to be interpreted in the context of the continuity of Jewish life and community.
In Jewish thought, each life is a world of its own and considered to be of inestimable value: in modern Israel, the untimely death of one loved person is a tragedy which marks the entire community. Indeed, there is hardly a family or friendship unmarked by loss as the population is so small that the seemingly modest numbers for each war assume tremendous proportions. As much as an individual act, this is also a collective act, rather than a formal gathering.
The ceremonies are simple on the eve of Yom Hazikaron and are not forgotten as we conclude the day the following night and merge into the festivities of Yom Ha'atzma'ut.
Originally and essentially designated to commemorate the loss of those men and women who fought and were killed in the IDF, Israel's armed forces, the day has now also been accepted as the appropriate moment to bring together families and friends and official recognition of all those who lost their lives under any form of attack, including acts of terror.
As we are thankful for our 50 years of independence, we carry with us the memory of those who helped make it possible and those who fell in their innocence because this was their dream.