Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s Official Memorial Day for her fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Falling either in late April or early May every year, Yom Hazikaron is an especially solemn time and marked by ceremonies and moments of silence across the country. It runs from sundown to sundown, in 2020, from April 27-28, and is followed immediately by Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day.
Yom Hazikaron begins at sundown (8.00pm) when a siren is sounded across the country for one minute. Everybody stops what they are doing, including cars driving on the highway, and observes the silence to show their respect and remember the fallen. That evening, the official State Ceremony to mark the start of Yom Hazikaron takes place at the Western Wall (the Kotel) in Jerusalem. Unlike in many other countries, Israel’s wars have taken place at home and being a small country, almost everybody knows somebody who died in the country’s wars making Yom Hazikaron an incredibly personal time of remembrance.
The following day, a siren sounds for two minutes, at 11.00am and again the country stops to remember. Following this, memorial ceremonies take place across the country – either public or private, to remember the country’s fallen. That evening, between 7 and 8.00pm, another state ceremony takes place, this one at Mount Herzl, Israel’s National Military Ceremony. This ceremony marks the end of Yom Hazikaron, and the beginning of Yom Haaztmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, a day which contrasts dramatically to what preceded it and a strong reminder of the price Israel has paid, and continues to pay for her independence.
There are many ceremonies that normally take place on Yom Hazikaron, here are a few of the most iconic:
At the Western Wall – annual ceremony for the Memorial Day opening, the flag is lowered to half-mast.
Ceremony in Jerusalem’s Safra Square
This year, due to COVID-19, any ceremonies that take place will be without a live audience, though they may be televised, and families throughout the country will remember their fallen loved ones from their own homes.