Yom HaZikaron (Day of Remembrance) is the day set aside to commemorate those who have died fighting for the State of Israel. It occurs the day before Israel Independence Day and is observed at 8pm when a siren blows for one minute. Everyone in Israel, including those driving on the streets, ceases what they are doing to pay tribute to those who lost their lives defending Israel.
Some Humanistic Jews, like other American Jewish communities, observe Yom HaZikaron with ceremonies honoring Israel’s fallen soldiers.
As with Israel Independence Day, many Humanistic Jews have mixed feeling or cannot commemorate the fallen from one side without also feeling sorrow for all those who have died in a conflict that has continued for too long. The holiday is inevitably a political one, and members of Humanistic Judaism have as diverse a range of opinions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as in the wider Jewish community. SHJ’s board has at times taken positions, including our longstanding call for both national aspirations to be achieved through a two-state solution.
As Humanists, we see violence as the greatest failure to uphold the values we cherish, of reason, empathy, dialogue, equality, and seeing the humanity in the “other.” Ultimately, the best way to commemorate the fallen is to bring about a peaceful world in which we renounce violence and in which future generations no longer continue the cycle of conflict.