The annual Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Terror is from sundown Sunday to Monday in memory of 22,682 soldiers who fell defending Israel as well as more than 2,000 victims of terror. This year,112 soldiers were added to the death toll.
The opening ceremony took place at 8:00 p.m., when a one-minute siren wailed throughout the country. A two-minute siren will sound at 11 a.m. Monday. The main ceremony was at the Western Wall after the opening siren, beginning with the President's message to the families of the fallen and continuing with the words of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. A bereaved parent, this year a Russian immigrant whose son fell in the Cast Lead Operation, recited the Kaddish prayer.
The IDF Chief Rabbi and the Rabbi of the Western Wall recited prayers. The Hatikva anthem closed the event.
The ceremony, in the presence of bereaved parents, dignitaries and honor guards from the various IDF forces, is broadcast on all Israeli radio and television stations at that time. All entertainment and dining facilities are closed. Most families light a memorial (yahrzeit) candle at home for the fallen.
During the evening and the following day, the electronic media show stories of the fallen soldiers and terror victims. Memorial ceremonies will be held at hundreds of locations, inaddition to the Western Wall which is in the presence of President Shimon Peres. Thousands of Jews will study Torah at synagogues where study sessions and lectures will be arranged. The Chief Rabbis of Israel and of the IDF will attend the “Chai HaTzafon” synagogue in Petach Tikva.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin will lead a ceremony at the Knesset, where songs in memory of the fallen soldiers will be heard. Defense Minister Ehud Barak also is scheduled to attend. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will participate in a ceremony at the Mt. Herzl military ceremony on Monday. On Saturday night, he visited the gravesite of his brother Yoni, who fell in the Entebbe rescue effort.
Widows and Orphans
A study conducted among IDF widows has revealed that most children of fallen soldiers experience learning difficulties. Nearly half of the widows said that raising their children after the loss of their husbands has been the most difficult challenge for them.
The loss of soldiers and the last several years of disappointment in the political echelon were registered in a survey of the general public. Only 22 percent of respondents said they think that politicians carry out the promises they make on Remembrance Day, that bereaved families should be considered throughout the year.
There are approximately 4,800 IDF widows and 8,000 children who suffered the loss of a parent who died in the service of the IDF. The most recent widow is Shlomit Peretz, whose husband Eliraz was killed in Gaza last month.
Despite the pain, Israel will end Remembrance Day on Monday night with the beginning of celebrations of the 62 years since the modern State of Israel was established.