This evening Yom HaZikaron begins, Israel’s national day of remembrance. The country comes to a halt to remember those who have been killed in Israel’s wars, and in terrorist attacks.
Unfortunately over the past year, Israel saw more Israelis killed in terrorist attacks. Last June, Hallel Yaffe Ariel z”l, a thirteen year old girl, was murdered in her sleep by a Palestinian terrorist, killing her in her own bedroom. As soon as her parents had finished the seven day “Shiva” mourning period, they went themselves to visit another group of mourners – ten orphans, whose father Rabbi Miki Mark z”l had been murdered by a Palestinian terrorist, in a drive-by shooting.
As well as the victims of terrorist attacks, we remember the soldiers who have died in Israel’s many wars. One of the most famous of Israel’s soldiers is Michael Levin z”l, a lone soldier from Philadelphia, whose story captured the hearts of Jews around the world. He was killed on August 1st 2006. He was 22 when he was killed in combat.
There are a number of ceremonies that take place around the country to mark the day. In the evening, the President and Chief of Staff of the IDF attend a central ceremony at the Western Wall. At 8pm, the siren sounds, and the country pauses for a minute’s silence, and then the ceremony begins. Then, in the day, the siren sounds once again at 11am, and the country once again pauses. There is then a ceremony at Har Herzl, Israel’s military cemetery in Jerusalem, at which the Prime Minister speaks.
Over 23,000 Israelis have been killed in wars and terror attacks. As we pay tribute to them each year, the wish we have is the same, and it is simple – that next year, we should not have to add any names to the list, and that the families of those who have died should find some comfort, as the Jewish people unites to remember their loved ones.
May their memories be a blessing.