Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) are two new holidays that have been added to the Jewish calendar since the establishment of the State of Israel. In Israel, these holidays are observed as national holidays. The Israeli Knesset established the day before Yom HaAtzmaut as Yom HaZikaron, a Memorial Day for soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the War of Independence and in other subsequent battles. Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. It is observed on or near the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls in April.
In Judaism, we so often blend the bitter with the sweet. We express this through breaking a glass at weddings, and spilling wine from our cups at Passover. Placing Yom HaAtzmaut and YomHaZikaron side by side is another way of blending celebration with mourning, knowing that no moment of joy or sadness is purely one or the other.
We mark them in our religious school, nursery school, and Shabbat services through teaching and song. From its beginning in 2015, we’ve also participated in the Jewish National Fund’s and Park Avenue Synagogue’s Yom HaAtzmaut celebration with a reading of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and Israeli song, dance, and food.