On Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day, the nation of Israel comes to a somber standstill in remembrance of those who have sacrificed their lives for their country. From sundown to sundown, for 24 hours, the nation quietly reflects on the price paid by Israel’s fallen warriors—men and women who fought for the safety and freedom of their families. Those who have had their lives taken from them in acts of terrorism are also remembered on this day.
Unlike in America, Israeli Memorial Day is not a day for outings and barbeques. Since every young man and woman in Israel serves in the army for 2-3 years, nearly every family has been touched by the loss of a soldier. In honor of their sacrifice, all public entertainment closes for the day as well as many shops and restaurants. An air raid siren sounds twice throughout the day as Israelis stop whatever they are doing and stand silently. Public prayer services are held across the country, and a passage from 2 Samuel 1:17-27 is often read in honor of the fallen. The excerpt below captures the mood of the day.
The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen. Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon – lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
O mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor fields of offerings. For the shield of the mighty is cast away there! The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, and the sword of Saul did not return empty.
Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
2 Samuel 1:19-23 NKJV
To learn more about Israeli Memorial Day, go here.
(Photo courtesy of the Israel Defense Forces.)