Yom Hazikkaron is Hebrew for "The day of remembrance. Sometimes this same name has been used in the past as another name for the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. It is also now known as Israel's Memorial Day.
This is a holiday that was created after Israel became a state (1948). It is not a biblical holiday.
This day is a memorial day that is dedicated to those persons who have given their lives so that Israel can exist today. It is similar to Memorial Day in the United States. It is celebrated one day before Israel's Independence Day on the 4th day of Iyar. This is also usually the 19th day of the Counting Of The Omer. A basic fundamental of any culture is to remember its past. This includes honoring those who have given their lives for the betterment of their nation. We can learn from remembering our forefathers, that righteousness is through faith first and action second (Genesis 15:6). It was the late Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren who made the decision to institute Israel's Memorial Day immediately before Independence Day. He explained Memorial Day's significance as follows:
"We view the warriors who fall in battle as those who sprout forth life. The life of a nation grew out of this blood... This day must be more than mourning: We must remember, we must grieve, but it must be a day of ... majesty and vision."(1)
In Israel, the day is remembered with the blowing of a loud siren. The siren is blown for one minute on the evening at the start of the holiday. In Judaism, the "day" is from sundown to sundown. On the morning of the holiday, the siren is blown again for two minutes. While the siren is blowing, it is customary to stop doing whatever you are doing and stand at attention in silence. On the highways, traffic stops and people get out of their cars. All business stops, and everyone is reminded of the cost of freedom. Schools stop and even the soldiers on the bases stop all activity.
Some Arabs have also fought in the Israeli military and given up their lives as well. This holiday is for Israel as a nation, not just for the Jewish residents. This stopping of all business and standing to honor all who have gone before us to preserve this nation is Israel's way of saying, "Thank You and I remember what you have done." It is done out of respect for the dead.
After the siren, there are official ceremonies at the 43 IDF military ceremonies. A small Israeli flag, adorned with a black ribbon and memorial flame, will be placed on the grave of each person who fell in Israel's battles and is buried in these military cemeteries. A few hours later, Israel will celebrate her independence.
Recent commentaries by Israeli rabbis have declared standing in silence to be a Jewish custom based on Leviticus 10:3 when Aaron stood in silence when his two sons died. This is also an opportunity to keep one of the commandments that require us not to speak ill of anyone.
For many, this holiday is very traumatic and emotional, especially the last couple of years with all of the suicide bombings by the Palestinians. These people died so that Israel could exist as a free nation, a safe haven for Jews throughout the world. Sometimes there are services held where you can participate in the reading of names of the soldiers who have died. (This is similar to Holocaust day where the names of the victims are read). Sometimes there are candles lit or prayer sessions. Sadly, a new feature added to this holiday is a State ceremony to honor those who died in terror attacks.
There are many people who have given their lives so Israel could exist. The number is believed to be approaching a quarter of a million. Nobody really knows exactly how many have died for this cause, but unfortunately the number is still growing. Israel is a small country and almost everyone there knows somebody who has died. Many know more than one or have had a near miss themselves.
Sometimes people go to visit the Latrun Wall. This is a long wall that contains the names of Israeli soldiers who have died. It would be similar to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in the United States.
While each country probably has a similar holiday to honor those who have died, no other country has fought for God's city Jerusalem with the passion inspired by the Holy Temple Mount the way Israel has. With a history second to none and a deed given to the people of Israel in the form of a Bible verse, Israel will prevail. Not so much because of their superior military but because they have the hand of God held over them for protection. In the end Israel will prevail.
Remembrance Day comes one day before Israel's Independence Day.
There is one death that is the most important to remember. The Messiah died so all of Israel could be saved. Through faith in Jesus, the Gentile is grafted into the blessing of salvation that has its roots in Israel. The meaning of Israel has changed over time. It started with just one person (Jacob) and expanded to a nation (his 12 sons that became 12 tribes). Since 1948, it has been a political state. There is also what some consider the spiritual commonwealth of Israel. This commonwealth consists of those people who have been adopted into the kingdom through faith in Christ and grafted into the Tree of Life. It is the circumcision of the heart that now makes one Jewish and a part of that commonwealth (Rom. 2:29).
Revelation 20:12: "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books."
Someday all those who died for Israel will meet their Messiah.
Get a memorial candle that burns for 24 hours and get together with others who have a passion for Israel. After you light the candle, you can pray for the peace of Jerusalem.(See Psalm 122:6)
The total of lives given fighting for the national cause is now at 23,320 (April 22-2015).(3)
For a comparison of the different wars and their casualties check out A Brief History Of Israel's War Casualties.
It is believed to be a religious holiday by those who choose to thank God for His miracles and favors, and to create and celebrate holidays that remind us of His works.
1). Arutz 7 (IsraelNationalNews.com) 5/11/2005.
2). Arutz 7 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 5/6/2011.
3). Arutz 7 (israelnationalnews.com) 4-22-2015.
The Feast of Israel by Bruce Scott of Friends Of Israel Ministries.
For a list of future holidays dates check the Master Calendar Table.