Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) is a day to honor those who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel, and civilian victims of terror.
The Knesset established the day before Yom HaAtzMaut (Israeli Independence Day) as a national day of public mourning. It is a solemn day during which all places of entertainment are closed and two-minute sirens are sounded in all of Israel, one in the evening to mark the beginning of the holiday and one in the morning, prior to the public memorial ceremony.
Scheduling Yom HaZikaron the day before Yom HaAtzmaut is intended to remind people of the sacrifice soldiers and their families have made for Israel’s independence and security.
Most Israelis have served in the IDF or know someone who was killed during military service, so the day affects a large percentage of the population. It’s a day to personally remember their friend or family member, to cry, to mourn.
Yom HaZikaron begins with an official ceremony at the Western Wall (pre-recorded in a “corona” year, with no live audience), as the flag of Israel is lowered to half-staff. Places of entertainment are closed for the day by law, and radio and television stations broadcast programs about Israel’s wars and sad songs that convey the somber mood of the day. During the two air raid sirens’ soundings, the entire country comes to a complete stop and cars are stopped on the streets as their occupants stand silently alongside their vehicles. The first siren marks the beginning of Israel’s Memorial Day at 8 p.m. Israel time, and the second is sounded at 11 a.m.