Yom HaZikaron

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Yom HaZikaron
PikiWiki Israel 5670 war memorial in tel hashomer.jpg
IDF soldiers participate in an official Yom HaZikaron ceremony to the fallen soldiers and the victims of terror attacks.
Observed byIsraelis
Date4 Iyar (Hebrew calendar)
2021 dateSunset, 13 April –
nightfall, 14 April[1]
2022 dateSunset, 3 May –
nightfall, 4 May[1]
2023 dateSunset, 24 April –
nightfall, 25 April[1]
2024 dateSunset, 12 May –
nightfall, 13 May[1]
Related toIndependence Day

Yom HaZikaron (Hebrew: יוֹם הַזִּכָּרוֹן, lit.'Memorial Day'), in full Yom HaZikaron LeHalalei Ma'arakhot Yisrael ul'Nifge'ei Pe'ulot HaEivah (Hebrew: יוֹם הזִּכָּרוֹן לְחַלְלֵי מַעֲרָכוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וּלְנִפְגְעֵי פְּעֻלּוֹת הָאֵיבָה, lit.'Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism'),[2] is Israel's official remembrance day,[3] enacted into law in 1963.[4] While Yom HaZikaron has been traditionally dedicated to fallen soldiers, commemoration has also been extended to civilian victims of terrorism.[5]


An IDF officer places new flags, each with a black ribbon, on the graves of IDF soldiers for Yom HaZikaron.
IDF soldiers at a Yom HaZikaron ceremony in 2007
Bedouin Soldiers Memorial.

In 1949 and 1950, the first two years after the declaration of the State, memorial services for soldiers who fell in the 1947–1949 Palestine war were held on Independence Day.[6] Services at military cemeteries were coordinated between the IDF and the Ministry of Defense. A concern arose, expressed by families of fallen soldiers, to establish a separate memorial day observance distinct from the festive celebrations of national independence. In response, and in light of public debate on the issue, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion – also serving as Minister of Defense – established in January 1951 the "Public Council for Soldiers' Commemoration". This council recommended establishing the 4th of Iyyar, the day preceding Independence Day, as the "General Memorial Day for the Heroes of the War of Independence". This proposal won government approval that same year.[6]


Yom HaZikaron is the national remembrance day observed in Israel for all Israeli military personnel who lost their lives in the struggle that led to the establishment of the State of Israel and for those who have been killed subsequently while on active duty in Israel's armed forces.[7] As of Yom HaZikaron 2022, that number was 24,068.[8]

Preceding evening[edit]

The day opens with a siren the preceding evening at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar system, a day begins at sunset. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything, including driving on highways, and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect.[7][9]

By law, all places of entertainment are closed on the eve of Yom HaZikaron, and broadcasting and educational bodies note the solemnity of the day.[7] Regular television programs cease for the day, and the names and ranks of every soldier who died for Israel are displayed in a 24-hour television broadcast.[10]

Since the founding of the state, Israel has chosen the Red Everlasting flower (Hebrew: דם המכבים, "Blood of the Maccabees") as the national memorial flower. The flower is depicted in many memorial sites and can be seen worn as stickers on shirts and jackets throughout Yom HaZikaron. Since 2019, the non-profit organization Dam HaMaccabim has been distributing pins with the real Red Everlasting flower throughout Israel and the United States.[11][12]

Main memorial day[edit]

A two-minute siren is sounded at 11:00 the following morning, which marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at each cemetery where soldiers are buried.[13]

Many Israelis visit the resting places of loved ones throughout the day.[14]

National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel's top leadership and military personnel.[7][9]

Memorial candles are lit in homes, army camps, schools, synagogues, and public places, and flags are lowered to half staff. Throughout the day, serving and retired military personnel serve as honor guards at war memorials throughout the country, and the families of the fallen participate in memorial ceremonies at military cemeteries.[7]

Many traditional and religious Jews say prayers for the souls of the fallen soldiers on Yom HaZikaron. Special prayers prescribed by the Israeli rabbinate are recited. These include the recital of Psalm 9: "For the leader, on the death of the son," and Psalm 144: "Blessed be the Lord, My Rock, who traineth my hands for war and my fingers for battle" in addition to memorial prayers for the dead.[7][15] The official ceremony to mark the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall.[16]

Israeli TV channels screen the names of all civilians killed in pogroms since 1851, and all fallen from 1860 (considered the date of the beginning of the Yishuv by the Israeli Ministry of Defense), in chronological order (rank, name, Hebrew date deceased and secular date) over the course of the day.[17] Originally, this was done by the Israeli Broadcasting Authority's Channel 33; once the IBA was dissolved and replaced by the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, the screening itself was moved to KAN 11 in lieu of Makan 33. The day officially draws to a close at sundown (between 19:00 and 20:00; 7–8 p.m.) in a ceremony at the national military cemetery on Mount Herzl, marking the start of Israel Independence Day,[14] when the flag of Israel is returned to full staff.[citation needed]

Scheduling Yom HaZikaron right before Independence Day is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved with the soldiers' sacrifice.[18] This transition shows the importance of this day among Israelis, most of whom have served in the armed forces, or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.[citation needed]


To avoid the possibility of Sabbath desecration should either Yom HaZikaron or Independence Day take place on Saturday night, both are observed one or two days earlier (the 3rd and 4th, or the 2nd and 3rd, of Iyar) when the 5th of Iyar falls on a Friday or Saturday (Shabbat). Likewise, when Yom HaZikaron falls on Saturday night/Sunday day, both observances are rescheduled to one day later.[19] This means that Yom HaZikaron is only actually observed on the 4th of Iyar if that date is a Tuesday. One time this occurred was in 2020.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Dates for Yom Hazikaron". Hebcal.com by Danny Sadinoff and Michael J. Radwin (CC-BY-3.0). Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  2. ^ States News Service (24 April 2012). "'We Will Fulfill the Last Will of the Fallen – to Defend Our Home in Israel' (IDF Press Release)". Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013. (subscription)
  3. ^ "Yom Hazikaron: Israel's Memorial Day". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Yom Ha-Zikaron – Israeli Memorial Day". Jewish Virtual Library. 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  5. ^ Haaretz Service (27 April 2009). "Israel honors fallen IDF soldiers, terror victims". Haaretz. Associated Press. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers". Knesset. 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, p. 846 (1971)
  8. ^ שובל, לילך (28 February 2022). "ערב יום הזיכרון: מספר חללי מערכות ישראל עומד על 24,068". ישראל היום (in Hebrew). Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  9. ^ a b Pelaia, Ariela (19 April 2010). "Yom HaZikaron – Israel Memorial Day". About.com. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Israelis start Memorial Day with siren to remember 23,544 fallen". 30 April 2017.
  11. ^ "The Dam Hamaccabim project blossoms in time for Yom Hazikaron". Jerusalem Post. 8 May 2019.
  12. ^ "'Blood of the Maccabees' flower sticker comes to life". Israel National News. 6 May 2019.
  13. ^ "23,477 fallen remembered in ceremonies across Israel; siren to sound at 11". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Siren Ushers in Israel's Memorial Day". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2012. ...culminating with a torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl at 8 pm, which ushers in Yom Ha'atzmaut
  15. ^ "Some members of the religious Zionist (national religious) community has [sic] also added special prayers to the prayer service for the evening prayers on Yom Ha-Zikaron." Jewish Virtual Library, op. cit.
  16. ^ "Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) 2012 in Jerusalem". Go Jerusalem. 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  17. ^ "2015 Memorial Day post". Official Facebook page of the former Israeli Broadcasting Authority.
  18. ^ "About Yom HaZikaron". Israel Ministry of Tourism. 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2012. ...the practice of commemorating the fallen on this day started in 1951 to mark the connection between Independence Day and the people who died to achieve and maintain this independence.
  19. ^ Sabag, Asher (2007). "Parshat Yom Ha'atzma'ut". Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  20. ^ "Yom HaZikaron 2020 - Israeli Memorial Day - יום הזכרון - Hebcal". www.hebcal.com. Retrieved 29 April 2022.

External links[edit]