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Israel Prepares for Memorial Day, Independence Day

Back-to-back holidays drive home a clear message: freedom costs dearly.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/13/2013, 9:30 PM

Independence Day approaches
Independence Day approaches
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel is preparing for one of the most emotionally charged weeks of the year: the week in which the Memorial Day for the IDF's Fallen Soldiers and Independence Day are marked, back-to-back.

Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron) will be marked from Sunday evening until Monday evening.

Independence Day (Yom Haatzmaut) will begin Monday evening, and end Tuesday evening. 

This is in keeping with Jewish tradition, in which sunset – and not the hour of midnight – marks the beginning of the new day.

Both holidays are relatively new ones; the 65 years in which Israel has existed are a short time, from the perspective of Judaism's history, which goes back almost 4,000 years. They are not religious holidays.

The Jewish state was founded, in large part, by socialist, secular Jews like David Ben Gurion, who had received a Torah education in their childhood and youth but later broke off with tradition. For them, the Jewish state itself was sacred, as was the military, and the holidays they instituted reflect this approach.  

The religious-Zionist Mizrachi movement – currently represented in the Knesset by Bayit Yehudi – sees the Jewish state as a step in the direction of the redemption of the Jewish people, as predicted by the Torah. The members of the movement therefore ascribe deep meaning to Independence Day and Memorial Day, and Deputy Religions Minister Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan's instruction to religious councils to fly the flag on the upcoming holidays reflects this approach.

Memorial Day for the IDF's Fallen Soldiers is gaining more profound meaning for the religious Zionist sector from year to year, as an increasingly large share of the IDF's combat ranks is filled by religious Zionists.