Every year, amidst the hoopla surrounding Israel’s birthday, we are drawn to the ceremony a few days earlier marking Yom HaZikaron—the Day of Remembering.
This is Israel’s Memorial Day, and it is observed in Israel itself with pomp and solemnity, as befits a small country where so many citizens know someone who has died in battle, or been killed in terror attack.
The ceremony in Los Angeles is organized by Israel’s Consulate General here, and each year it seems to grow larger, both in participation and attendance. This is the third year it has been held at Stephen S. Wise Temple in Bel Air, and over 1000 people came.
The crowd is almost all Israeli. Though the speakers use English and Hebrew, one hears very little English in the audience. An hour before the ceremony begins, the next of kin of soldiers and victims gather in a private ceremony to light yahrzeit candles in front of pictures of their loved ones. There are hundreds of these pictures arranged on a table in the back of the sanctuary.
The ceremony itself, excerpted in video below, combines traditional liturgy with speeches, memorial poems, and mournful songs. The kaddish, or prayer for the dead, is recited, and there is a minute of silence, just as there is in Israel.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky delivers remarks at Yom Ha Zikaron (Israel Memorial Day) ceremony April 18, 2010 at Stephen S. Wise Temple