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Gantz: IDF Units Free to Choose Yizkor Formula

Under pressure from secular public, press, Chief of Staff takes step back from controversy over memorial text.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/21/2011, 11:50 AM / Last Update: 6/21/2011, 11:44 AM

Flash 90

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has apparently taken a step back from his statement that the IDF’s official Yizkor memorial text contains a reference to G-d.

In response to queries from journalists and an online petition with close to 50,000 signers, Gantz issued a clarification saying that while the Yizkor text with the reference to G-d was formulated immediately after the Six Day War, “every unit is allowed to choose its own formula, whether it begins with ‘May G-d remember His sons and daughters…’ or ‘May the Nation of Israel remember its sons and daughters...’
 
The online petition was initiated by Yehudit Bialer, whose son Yoram was killed in 1948. “Yoram was a 21 year old youth and he knew that he was defending his homeland,” she wrote. “It is important for me to know that the nation he belongs to and that he loved, will remember him.”
 
Veteran television journalist Menashe Raz discovered what he claimed was a change in the Yizkor, from a secular text written by socialist Zionist founder Berl Katznelson, to the one that turns to G-d. However, in his latest statement on the matter, the Chief of Staff insists that there has been no change in the text since 1967, and that it has always invoked G-d. 
 
The controversy can be seen as an expression of a complex transition Israeli society is making, from a secular and often stridently anti-religious ideology under the socialist founders, to a more G-d fearing general outlook. Most of the prominent pioneer socialist Zionists -- though definitely not all of them -- saw the State and Nation as sacred, but  were not religious.