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Memorial Day/Independence Day Duo Begins

Israel prepares for the Memorial Day/Independence Day duo, symbolizing the “life arising from blood” that symbolizes much of Jewish history.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 4/27/2009, 6:49 PM

Israel prepares for the Memorial Day/Independence Day duo, symbolizing the “life arising from blood” that symbolizes much of Jewish history.

Memorial Day Videos
Israel National News presents Memorial Day videos. Scroll down for Ind. Day videos

Memorial Day: From Aliyah to Ultimate Sacrifice
Memorial Day: Sherry Mandell Remembers her Son
Memorial Day: Noam Apter -- He Died Saving his Schoolmates
Memorial Day: Love of the Land
Memorial Day: Jumped on Grenade to Save Comrades
Memorial Day: Park Commemorates Young Friends
Memorial Day: Rebbetzin Jungreis on Jewish Suffering

Independence Day Videos

Independence Day: Where it All Began
A visit to the hall where the state was declared.
Independence Day: Publicize the Miracle
National-religious communities throughout Israel have been holding the Independence Day prayers outside.
Independence Day: A Chat About Dosh The Cartoonist
A talk with the son of Dosh, the late illustrator who created cartoon character "Srulik" who symbolized the State of Israel.

Photo Essay: Honoring Israel's Fallen on Memorial Day
Article: Honor Those Who Have Fallen
Article: Blood and Rebirth
Article: The State of Israel
Podcast: Annual Musings on the State of Israel
Podcast: Those Who Fought to Create the State of Israel
Podcast: Postman by Day, Jewish Freedom Fighter by Night

Memorial Day begins Monday evening at 8 PM, with a nation-wide siren signaling a minute of silence and remembrance. On Tuesday morning at 11 AM, another siren will sound, this one for two minutes, followed by official memorial ceremonies at 43 IDF military cemeteries throughout the country. There will also be ceremonies for volunteers from overseas who fought and died during the War of Independence, and for victims of terrorism. 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 military cemeteries throughout Israel.


The official IDF Memorial Day ceremony at the Western Wall Monday night
Israel news photo: Tovia Singer

The ceremonies, flags and media attention throughout the day express the country's respect and appreciation for the fallen as well as its participation in the grief of the families.

A total of 22,570 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods. Another 1,723 have been reported killed in terror attacks since 1948.

In the past year, since Memorial Day 2008, 13 security force members and 12 civilians have been killed in war or by terrorists. These include ten soldiers and three civilians killed during the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead against Hamas; three policemen murdered by terrorists; three victims of a bulldozer terror attack in Jerusalem; three killed by Hamas-fired rockets in towns bordering Gaza; and the last victim, 13-year-old Shlomo Nativ of Bat Ayin, who was murdered by an axe-wielding Arab terrorist.

Memorial Day ends, as do other Jewish holidays, at nightfall, and the somber nature of the day gives way to the gaiety of Israel’s 61st Independence Day.

The transition between the days was explained by the late Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the first Chief Rabbi of the IDF and the man who set the date of Memorial Day. He said, "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 [also] be a day of majesty and vision."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a special Independence Day message to Jewish communities around the world, said, “Each year that we mark the rebirth of the Jewish state after long centuries of exile is a great cause for celebration… The past 61 years show just what a free and independent Jewish nation can achieve. With scarce resources, we brought a barren land back to life and absorbed millions of immigrants. Through innovation and determination, the genius of our people has made us a leader in agriculture, medicine and science, while our creativity spawned a high-tech industry that continues to amaze the world… All this has been achieved even though Israel has lived under constant threat for 61 years. Unfortunately, Israel remains under threat. An Iranian regime that is feverishly pursuing nuclear weapons brazenly calls for our destruction. Terror organizations on our southern and northern borders grow stronger by the day. And a rising tide of anti-Semitism is sweeping the civilized world… To address these challenges in the years ahead, unity among our people, both inside and outside Israel, will be more important than ever. That is why it is vital that we continue to strengthen the bonds between Israel and the Diaspora…”

Independence Day is celebrated as a religious holiday by the religious-Zionist public, for the following reasons:

  • It is a positive commandment to thank G-d for His miracles and favors, and to enact holidays to this end.
  • The establishment of the State, in the wake of centuries of pogroms that culminated with the Holocaust, saved many Jewish lives, and helped buttress the Jewish People's spiritual condition.
  • The establishment of the State removed the shame of Exile and the accompanying desecration of G-d's Name, as in Ezekiel 36, verses 4, 20, and others.
  • The establishment of the State of Israel facilitates, for both individuals and the nation as a whole, the fulfillment of the Torah commandment to settle the Land of Israel.
Among the Independence Day events taking place throughout the country will be a march through Jerusalem and a gathering at the Latrun armored corps monument by thousands of youths freshly-returned from the March of the Living in Auschwitz.