Yom HaZikaron starts tonight.

Starting with a haunting, lingering, trembling siren, we remember the 23,928 taken too young – regardless of their age – in defense of their country and their people.

I hope and pray that peace will come one day soon, and the number of the dead will be fixed forever as a permanent reminder of their sacrifice and a past left behind.

At the going down of the sun

In a few minutes, the sirens will pierce the evening skies across Israel as Yom HaZikaron begins, the day on which we remember those who have given their lives for Israel, whether as soldiers in combat, or as victims of terrorism.

The hope of us all is that from this day until next year’s Yom HaZikaron, there will be no names added to the list of the deceased; no more bloodshed, and no more dying. That’s our prayer. That’s our wish for the future.

Meantime, at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

Yom Hazikaron 2015

Today’s Yisrael Hayom newspaper marks Yom HaZikaron (the Day of Remembrance Israel dedicates to those who have fallen in wars and terror attacks) with this cover:


The white print subheading reads:

“The State of Israel gathers in memory of the 23,320 fallen.”

Between the candle and the picture of the mourner, the headline is:

“Thanks to them.”

Shortly (8.00 PM, tonight) sirens will sound across the country as the memorial day gets underway.

We will remember

Tonight is the start of Yom HaZikaron, when Israel remembers those who have fallen in its wars for survival. (And let’s not kid ourselves, regardless of what mainstream western media says to the contrary: Israel’s wars have been about survival, not some colonial project.)  By the count given in today’s Israel HaYom newspaper – pictured below – there have been 23,169.

And, as always, I will be trying to get my head round the change in focus and feeling when, 24 hours later, we move from Yom HaZikaron to Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day). From the depths of despair to the heights of celebration.

The main headline/caption: "we will remember them all."

The main headline/caption: “we will remember them all.”

Now, it’s time to prepare for some introspection and give thought – and thanks – to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

From siren to celebration

Tonight (Sunday) is the start of Israel’s Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. At 8 pm there will be a minute long siren, and we will remember the 23,085 members of the security forces who died on active service.

Many have the custom to visit the gravesites of deceased family members. For example (from the Times of Israel):

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on Saturday evening went to Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery to visit the grave of his brother Yoni, who was killed in 1976 while leading an assault force to free Israeli hostages at the Entebbe airport.

There are many memorial ceremonies across the country. Based on past experience, they are hard, painful, and tearful for many who attend.

Tomorrow (Monday) at 11 am there will be a two minute long siren.

On Monday evening, darkness marks the transition from the aching sadness and despair of that day, to the heights of happiness: Israel’s 65th Independence Day. From introspection and remembrance, to one long day of joyous celebration. We look forward, not back.

We will have remembered our fallen. We will have done our duty, and at the very least paid our respects to those who paid the ultimate price for Israel. And then we will declare, by our very presence: am yirael chai. (The people of Israel live.)

From the depths to the heights

Last night was the start of Yom HaZikaron (Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism), marked with national and local ceremonies, and an 8pm siren. The memory of the 22,993 fallen soldiers and victims of terror was also marked at 11 am this morning – with a two minute siren.

It is, as you would expect, a sad, serious, introspective occasion. There are a lot of tears shed. And tonight, as one day ends and another starts, the whole country will switch from the depths of despair to the heights of joy as Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) begins. Israel is 64 years old and it will be having lots of birthday parties.

This switch in emotions takes some getting used to. Even now, almost three years into our aliyah, it seems strange. It may only be a practical example of the truism that life goes on, but it must be so hard for those who have lost loved ones. My heart goes out to them. I just pray that this time next year the ledger is still at 22,993.