Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s Official Memorial Day for her fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Yom Hazikaron is an especially solemn time and marked by ceremonies and silences across the country.
It starts at sundown on April 27 2020 and is marked until sundown April 2020 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 11.00 am, 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 8.00 pm, 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.
Usually there are many ceremonies you can join for Yom Hazikaron, at the Western Wall there is an annual ceremony for the Memorial Day opening where the the flag is lowered to half-mast, this year due to Covid-19 there are no public ceremonies, we are remembering our fallen from home.
Yom HaShoah (Yom HaShoa, Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laGvura) officially translates to “Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and Heroism”, but is often known as “Holocaust Remembrance Day” in English. It is an occasion to commemorate the lives and heroism of the six million Jewish people who died in the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945. Yom HaShoah is on the 27th day of Nisan, the first month of the ecclesiastical year in the Jewish calendar.
Yom HaShoah opens in Israel at sundown in a state ceremony held in Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Authority, in Jerusalem. During the ceremony the national flag is lowered to half mast, the President and the Prime Minister both deliver speeches, Holocaust survivors light six torches symbolizing the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust and the Chief Rabbis recite prayers.
On Yom HaShoah, ceremonies and services are held at schools, military bases and by other public and community organizations – but this year, when all the formal Holocaust ceremonies are canceled, Zikaron BaSalon offers a unique and authentic way to keep the tradition and the memory alive.
“This year, our most important commitment is to protect the safety of the Holocaust survivors, as they are the most vulnerable, thus, Zikaron BaSalon is going to proceed without live testimonials from our survivors. Additionally, we are working to ensure that we keep Zikaron BaSalon running and following all the restrictions necessary, which means that we’re going to host Zikaron BaSalon digitally.”
On the eve of Yom HaShoah and the day itself, places of public entertainment are closed by law. Israeli television airs Holocaust documentaries and Holocaust-related talk shows, and low-key songs are played on the radio. Flags on public buildings are flown at half mast. At 10:00 am, an air raid siren sounds throughout the country and Israelis are expected to observe two minutes of solemn reflection. Almost everyone stops what they are doing, including motorists who stop their cars in the middle of the road, standing beside their vehicles in silence as the siren is sounded.