The photo was take by Deena Levenstein at Safra Square on Yom Hazikaron last year, 2016.

Israel Independence Day 2017 guide and event listing

Whether a seasoned Israeli or a temporary visitor to Israel, you probably will want to experience Israel Remembrance Day and all that entails. Considering that this is a widely commemorated day, it isn’t very difficult to participate, as long as you know a few things in advance.

When

This year, 2017, Yom Hazikaron, Israel Remembrance Day, begins on the eve of Sunday, April 30th and continues until the eve of Monday, May 1. There is a 1-minute siren at 8pm on Sunday and a 2-minute siren at 11am on Monday.

What

Cafes, bars and other entertainment venues close early on the eve of Yom Hazikaron. Many shops do as well. That means that when you walk around Sunday afternoon and evening, you’ll find things coming practically to a halt.

For the sirens, wherever you are, the people around you will stand in place for a moment of silence in remembrance of those who fell during their service in the Israel Defense Forces or in terrorist attacks. This is an emotionally stirring experience.

There are also ceremonies and services throughout the city.

Where

There are a few locations where Yom Hazikaron is felt most strongly in Jerusalem.

The Western Wall: The opening state ceremony of Yom Hazikaron takes place at 8pm on Sunday at the Western Wall. This is open to invited bereaved family members. You can watch it here or on Israeli TV channels. Afterwards one can visit the Western Wall where the torch lit during the ceremony stays burning for 24 hours next to a flag at half mast which are guarded by soldiers throughout the 24 hours.

Monuments for the fallen: There are monuments throughout Jerusalem where different battles took place or where terror attacks occurred. By many of these monuments there are memorial ceremonies that begin with the sounding of the siren at 11am on Monday.

Mount Herzl: Israel’s national military cemetery is visited by many families of fallen soldiers as well as others paying respect to those who paid with their lives for our freedom. There is a State Ceremony on Monday at 11am attended by the Israel prime minister, the mayor of Jerusalem and other dignitaries. If you decide to go to this ceremony, travel by public transportation (the light rail gets there), arrive early and bring a hat, sun screen and water. Be prepared to stand in a crowd, possibly in the sun, for quite a long time.

Read more about the ceremonies around the city here.

If you’d like a very meaningful way to commemorate the fallen soldiers, you are invited to participate in a special project that helps people pay respects to soldiers who died in the War of Independence, leaving no family behind, because they were Holocaust survivors who had come to Israel with no remaining family. you can read about the project in an article in English I wrote about it here and the only change is the link to the project here. I’m sorry it’s all in Hebrew…

Israeli television & radio: Throughout Yom Hazikaron, all shows on Israeli television and radio are related to the day, with many personal stories about soldiers alongside subdued, melancholy music.

Some events of note

All of these events are in Hebrew unless otherwise specified.

Alliance House, 5 Kiach St. (in the shuk parking lot)
Begin Center – for students
Lev Ha’ir community center, Nachlaot – with simultaneous Hebrew sign language
MDA
Terminal, the First Station
Beit Avi Chai (basically always fills up)

Anything else you’d like to know?

I hope this guide helps you. Please feel free to email me at deenalev@gmail.com with any specific questions you’d like answered and I’ll do my best to reply before Yom Hazikaron begins.

I wish you a meaningful Israel Remembrance Day.

For information about a few other options as well as some more details about some things mentioned here, please click here.