This year Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut will have to be observed and celebrated at home and away from crowds. Here we offer some suggestions as to how you can mark both of these special days in a meaningful way.
To use the full name, Yom HaZikaron LeHalalei Ma'arakhot Yisrael ul'Nifge'ei Pe'ulot HaEivah (Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism) is the day when Israel mourns its fallen soldiers and members of its security forces. In recent years the day has also become the opportunity to remember victims of terror. It is a very sad day in Israel with events held in schools, municipalities and military cemeteries throughout the country. For more information, read here.
Below are some ideas on how to experience some of the mood of this day while observing current social distancing rules. We have also included a question at the end to consider or to discuss with a friend or family member.
This deeply moving song named “Goodnight Sean” by popular Israeli artist Hanan Ben Ari was written in memory of Sgt Sean Mondschein z”l who was killed in Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The lyrics are based on messages Sean wrote to his family in the event that he would not return home.
Question: In what ways did the use of Sean’s own messages influence the power of the song?
The Alex Singer Project was established by the family of the American-Israeli soldier who was killed in Lebanon 1987. This short video features Alex’s own art work and writings to teach us about his life and world view.
Question: Which of Alex’s teachings resonated most strongly with you and why?
The Silver Platter by Natan Alterman is a classic poem that is read on Yom Hazikaron at ceremonies throughout Israel.
The Silver Platter
And the land grows still, the red eye of the sky slowly dimming over smoking frontiers
As the nation arises, Torn at heart but breathing, To receive its miracle, the only miracle
As the ceremony draws near, it will rise, standing erect in the moonlight in terror and joy
When across from it will step out a youth and a lass and slowly march toward the nation
Dressed in battle gear, dirty, Shoes heavy with grime, they ascend the path quietly
To change garb, to wipe their brow
They have not yet found time. Still bone weary from days and from nights in the field
Full of endless fatigue and unrested,
Yet the dew of their youth. Is still seen on their head
Thus they stand at attention, giving no sign of life or death
Then a nation in tears and amazement will ask: “Who are you?”
And they will answer quietly, “We Are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given.”
Thus they will say and fall back in shadows
And the rest will be told In the chronicles of Israel
Question: How does this poem make you feel about the Israel that you have most recently experienced?
This is a great day to learn more about one of Israel’s wars or military campaigns. Why not set up a Zoom date with a friend or a group of friends and choose one of the wars or military campaigns to learn more about? Here is a great place to start your research.
The sadness of Yom Hazikaron is followed immediately by the elation of Independence Day. Some people focus on the religious significance of the day while others enjoy the nationalistic elements of the day, while others just enjoy having a day of celebration. The day is enshrined in Israeli law as a national holiday. Flags adorn the streets and buildings and families venture out for hikes, picnics and of course barbecues. For more details about how the day is observed, read here .
Below are some suggestions for celebrating and enjoying the day from home in true Israeli style.
Israelis love trivia. Yom Haatzmaut is famous for the International Bible Quiz and many food products add trivia to their labeling at this time of year. Here is an awesome quiz for you and your families and friends to compete to see who is the Israel trivia champion. Arrange a time to meet online to take the quiz simultaneously or have all the friends in a group chat take the quiz and post their scores!!
Yom Haatzmaut is known throughout Israel as BBQ day. The air is filled with the smell of grilling meat. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the average Israeli eats 1.7 kilos (3.7 pounds) of meat each month. During the month starting with Pesach, however, the average jumps to 2.3 kilos per person. This translates roughly to 15,000 tons of beef al ha’esh (on the fire) during the month of Independence Day. Tons of chicken – mainly the thigh-meat called pargiyot — will also be cooking on the grill!! For ideas on how to make a Yom Haatzmaut feast for you and your family, click here.
Israel has a (sometimes) proud record of participating in the Eurovision Song Contest. This year’s cover was canceled but not before Israel had chosen its entry. Ethiopian-Israeli teenager Eden Alene was chosen to represent Israel singing the cosmopolitan song Feker Libi-Amharric for My Love. The song features lyrics in English, Amharric, Hebrew and Arabic. Listen to the song here and see the lyrics here.
Question: What does the song featuring four languages say about Israeli society today?
Israel’s most beloved parody show is Eretz Nehederet. It is a kind of Israeli Saturday Night Live. On Yom Haatzmaut, it is great to be proud of Israel’s exports. One of the most successful cultural exports of the last few years has of course been Fauda. Watch here to enjoy how the Eretz Nehederet team made fun of Fauda.