The IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny GAntz, has approved a committee's recommendation to restore the pre-1967 version of the military Yizkor memorial prayer.
The committee was appointed after a public debate erupted over an allegedly recent change in the Yizkor – from a version that opened with "May the Nation of Israel remember its sons and daughters" to one that said "May G-d remember His sons and daughters."
A petition to restore the prayer's "secular version" has garnered over 66,000 signatures – almost 1 out of 100 Israelis.
Gantz's bureau initially rejected the demand, noting that the change was made by former IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren and had been official since immediately after the Six Day War.
The original version was penned by Berl Katznelson, a Zionist socialist leader, after the events of Tel Chai in 1920. It was modeled on the Jewish Yizkor prayer but was not religious in nature.
The committee appointed by Gantz was headed by Brigadier General Prof. Yishai Bar and included Chief Military Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Rafi Peretz and two other senior officers, who head the Education Corps and the Casualties Administration, respectively. The team consulted rabbis, the IDF widows and orphans' organization and "men of letters."
Brig. Gen Bar said that the formula that the committee recommended for remembrance ceremonies includes religious elements – Kaddish, El Male' Rachamim and a chapter from Psalms – but also "respects the secular memorial culture."