The sombre commemoration of Yom Hazikaron (Israel Remembrance Day) always immediately precedes the jubilant celebration of Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day). Why are these two days straight after each other? How are we expected or able to suddenly shift our feelings from that of sadness and reflection to those of joy and ecstasy?
Yom Hazikaron is a memorial day for all those brave soldiers who lost their lives fighting for Israel and also for the victims of terror. In Israel, for the entire 24 hours, all places of public entertainment such as theatres, pubs and nightclubs are closed. A siren pierces the sky across the country twice, during which the entire country comes to a ‘standstill’ of traffic and all daily activity. In Israel and throughout the world, memorial ceremonies are held with special prayers recited. Yom Haatzmaut, on the other hand, is a day of parties and jubilation. Music fills the city squares and people are dancing on every street corner.
Joining the memorial day to Independence day conveys a simple message: That we owe the survival of our beloved state of Israel to the many brave men and woman who gave their lives fighting for her. We dare not forget those who enabled us to live in and enjoy our precious country today. Rather, we bestow upon them honour and dignity by stopping for a few moments and shifting our attention towards them, their stories and their sacrifice. This is why the Knesset set the day of Yom Hazikaron on the 4th Iyar, right before Independence. Because it is only through tasting the pain of sacrifice and loss that we can appreciate the joy of liberty and national freedom.
May we all only know of peace in Israel and may we only gather to share in joyous events and celebrations always.
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman