Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day, Hebrew: יום הזכרון לחללי מערכות ישראל ונפגעי פעולות האיבה, lit. Israel Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day) is an Israeli national holiday.
Yom Hazikaron is observed on the 4th day of the month of Iyar of the Hebrew calendar, always preceding the next day's celebrations of Israel Independence Day, Yom Ha-Atzma'ut, on the 5th day of Iyar, the anniversary of the Proclamation of the State of Israel in 1948. Both days may be moved one day or two earlier (the 3rd and 4th, or the 2nd and 3rd, of Iyar) if either the 4th or the 5th happens to occur on a Saturday, the Shabbat. Similarly, both days are moved one day later if Yom Hazikaron would fall out on Sunday.
This holiday honors veterans and fallen military personnel of the Israel Defense Forces and other Israeli security services who died in the modern Arab Israeli conflict, as well as fallen members of the jewish brigade, and of the various paramilitary organization of the Yishuv , such as the Haganah and Irgun, who died before the establishment of Israel (starting from 1860, when Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the first modern Jewish settlement outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, was built). Yom Hazikaron also commemorates civilians murdered by acts of terrorism. As of Yom Hazikaron 2007 Israel honors the memory of 22,305 people who were killed in the line of duty (including non combat related deaths during military service), an addition of 233 since 2006, and 1,635 civilian terror victims .
The day includes many national ceremonies for fallen soldiers in which senior public officials and military officers are present. The day opens the preceding evening at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar system days begin at sunset, with a one-minute siren during which most Israelis stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect. Many national-religious (religious-Zionist) Jews say prayers for the souls of the fallen soldiers at this time as well. The official ceremony to mark the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall, at which time the flag of Israel is lowered to half mast.
A two-minute siren is heard the following morning, at 11:00, which marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gathering which are held at each cemetery where soldiers are buried. The day officially draws to a close between 19:00 - 20:00 (7-8:00 p.m.) in the official ceremony of Israel Independence Day on Mount Herzl, when the flag of Israel is returned to full mast.
Scheduling the memorial day right before the independence day is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved with the soldiers' sacrifice. 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.
Historically the date was chosen because during the first year of Israel's existence politicians were not able to agree on a date for a memorial day. As the year came to a close without a decision, the memorial day was celebrated on Israel's first independence day (1949), and the same arrangement was made the following year (1950). Celebrating the holidays together proved difficult (both logistically and emotionally), so in 1951, following the recommendation of a public commission, the memorial day was moved one day back. This arrangement was enacted as a law in 1963.
Certain sects of Haredi Jews do not attribute any specific significance to this day, however other Haredim serve in the armed forces and observe the memorial day.
ונזכור את כולם
יִזְכֹּר עַם יִשׂרָאֵל אֶת בָּנָיו וּבְנוֹתָיו,
הַנֶּאֱמָנִים וְהָאַמִּיצִים, חַיָּלֵי צְבָא-הֲגָנָה לְיִשׂרָאֵל,
וְכָל לוֹחֲמֵי הַמַּחְתָּרוֹת וַחֲטִיבוֹת הַלּוֹחֲמִים
בְּמַעַרְכוֹת הָעָם, וְכָל אַנְשֵי קְהִילִיַּת הַמּוֹדִיעִין
וְהַבִּטָּחוֹן וְאַנְשֵי הַמִּשְׁטָרָה אֲשֶׁר חֵרְפוּ נַפְשָׁם
בָּמִלְחָמָה עַל תְּקוּמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל,
וְכָל אֵלֶּה שֶׁנִּרְצְחוּ בָּאָרֶץ וּמִחוּצָה לָהּ
בִּידֵי מְרָצְחִים מֵאִרְגּוּנֵי הָטֶּרוֹר.
יִזְכֹּר יִשׂרָאֵל וְיִתְבָּרַך בְּזַרְעוֹ וְיֶאֱבַל עַל זִיו הָעֲלוּמִים
וְחֶמְדַת הַגְּבוּרָה וּקְדֻשָׁת הָרָצוֹן וּמְסִירוּת הַנֶּפֶש
אֲשֶׁר נִסְפּוּ בַּמַּעֲרָכָה הַכְּבֵדָה.
יִהְיוּ גִּבּוֹרֵי מִלְחֲמוֹת יִשְֹרָאֵל עֲטוּרֵי הַנִּצָּחוֹן
חֲתוּמִים בְּלֵב יִשְֹרָאֵל לְדוֹר דּוֹר.