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Israel’s Unique Memorial Day & Independence Day

Israel Mourns Its Fallen Ahead of Independence Day

Israel’s Independence Day, or Yom HaAtzmaut, is on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. However, Israelis are first commemorating Yom HaZikaron on the day before – Monday, May 13 – as the country’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

This day of mourning before celebration has always been Israel’s uniquely poignant way of marking independence, with this year carrying extra weight due to the October 7th massacre and the Israel-Hamas War.

Commemorate with us by learning more about Israel’s Memorial Day & Independence Day below!



Yom HaZikaron & Yom HaAtzmaut

Most of Israel's holidays are religious holidays, with the exception of three incredibly important days: Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day that all occur in just over a week of each other. Last week was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day which remembers a time of unparalleled tragedy and coincides with the date of the Warsaw Uprising.

This week is Yom HaZikaron, or Memorial Day, and Yom HaAtzmaut which is Israel's Independence Day - together they mark the tragic sacrifices necessary to establish, triumphantly, the independent State of Israel. However, these two days are much different from what one might experience in any other country.



Yom HaZikaron is a somber day, where everyone mourns together, cries together, and embraces one another. It is a day to remember the fallen soldiers of war and the victims of terror throughout Israel's modern history.

The commemorations begin the evening before with a memorial siren going off across the country at 8PM and again the next morning at 11AM. During this time, the country comes to a standstill for two minutes - not a word is spoken, cars and buses pull over to the side of the streets and highways, and everyone rises to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the Jewish State. Following the morning siren, Israeli Air Force jets fly over Jerusalem in the "missing man" formation (four jets with one trailing off to the side) to honor the IDF's brave fallen soldiers.

Loved ones also visit the graves of the fallen on this day, and even those who haven't lost someone directly often attend commemorative events or visit the military cemetery to hear the stories of these brave soldiers and victims from the families.

Many may think it is strange that Yom HaZikaron, such a serious day, happens the day before Israel's joyous Independence Day, but the reason behind this it is part of what makes Israel so special and important. Without its sacrifices and its brave soldiers, Israel would not be here today, and every year we are reminded of the price we pay for our sovereignty and independence as a free people in a free land.


Israel's Mount Herzl Military Cemetery on Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), preceding Independence Day


Once the sun sets on Memorial Day, the Independence Day celebrations begin. While 2024's celebrations will be muted due to the ongoing war and hostages held in Gaza, it is still a holiday with most Israelis taking the time off work to gather with friends and family.

Some of Yom Ha'atzmaut's most famous and beloved celebrations are an annual Air Force show and public parties and neighborhood festivals. While those are cancelled in 2024, there will still be beach-going, family barbeques, free museums and cultural events, and blue-and-white Israeli flags everywhere.



Israel's Independence Day is celebrated year after year with just as much excitement as the year when Israel's Independence was first announced. Though Yom Ha'atzmaut isn't just about celebrating our nationality. It is about celebrating the Jewish people, our loved ones, those who fought for us in the past, and those who will make Israel's future possible.



This time is about remembering Israel as a fusion of innovation, history, religion, and modern Jewish culture. It is about celebrating a homeland for the Jewish people, which unites us all, and invites everyone to remember what makes Israel a land like no other.

Yom Ha'atzmaut Sameach (Happy Independence day) and happy 76th birthday, Israel!


Show off your love for the Jewish state in a special way with these unforgettable Israel-themed gifts!



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