Mount Herzl IDF Cemetery
Mount Herzl IDF CemeteryIsrael news photo

The Knesset will soon consider a bill that would give workers whose family members died while serving in the IDF, or were killed in a terror attack, a day off from work with pay. The bill, according to a report in Ma'ariv, is being sponsored by several MKs, in cooperation with the Yad Labanim organization.

Yad Labanim is an umbrella organization that helps families preserve the memory of soldiers who died or were killed during the course of their duty in the IDF. The organization holds memorial events for communities and in honor of individual soldiers, builds and maintains monuments, parks, and other public facilities in memory of the fallen, and provides support services to families who have experienced loss.

Yad Lebanim head Eli Ben-Shem discussed the law with MK Reuven Rivlin, who agreed to sponsor the bill, and drafted legislation that would add a vacation day for all workers who had lost a loved one, either in military service or due to a terror attack. The day off would be on the yahrzeit (day of death) of their loved one. Those who suffered multiple losses would receive multiple days off.

Many Israelis in this situation do not go to work on the anniversary of their loved one's death, preferring to spend the day with family and to vist the cemetery where their loved one is buried. In line with Jewish tradition, many families conduct memorial services in their local synagogues, followed by a special meal dedicated to the memory of the fallen.

The Finance Ministry was initially opposed to the idea, claiming that it would hurt the economy. In a final compromise version of the bill, it was decided that individuals wishing to take a day off on their loved one's yahrzeit could exchange the day for another vacation day they were eligible for – either the personal annual vacation days they are eligible for (according to Israeli law, all salaried full-time workers are eligible for at least ten work days off each year) or a “choice” vacation day, such as Purim or the Ninth of Av.