Wednesday, May 8, was Yom HaZikaron – the day people in Israel and Jews around the world remember Israel’s fallen soldiers and people who lost their lives in terrorist attacks. To commemorate the occasion, on May 8, YCQ held a program for all students, grades 4 through 8, to help them learn about the importance of Israel and the people who gave their lives in order for all of us to have a Jewish state.

In this morning’s program, which was held in the YCQ gym, there were three tables, and at each table there was a volunteer who talked to the students about two fallen soldiers or terror victims – men or women – whose photos they shared with the group. The volunteers described who the people were, their backgrounds, where they were from, their service to Israel, and how they unfortunately lost their lives. The students were placed into groups, and they rotated clockwise among the tables as they passed through the gym to learn about the personal stories of the people. It was sad, but also very touching and inspiring to hear about their sacrifice. Hannah Zakry, an eighth grader who will be graduating this spring, said, “It was a remarkable experience.”

Yom HaZikaron was officially declared by the Israeli Knesset in 1963 to be a Memorial Day for those who lost their lives in the struggle that led to the establishment of the State of Israel and for all military soldiers who were killed while on active duty in Israel’s armed forces. Since a day on the Hebrew calendar begins at sunset the evening before, to start the day of remembrance, Yom HaZikaron, there is a siren that goes off at sundown. This year at 8 p.m., on May 7, you can hear the siren throughout Israel for one whole minute. To honor their memory, everyone in the country stops what they are doing to take a moment to remember the fallen soldiers. Traffic comes to a standstill and people get out of their cars, even on the busiest roads, to stand quietly and pay tribute to the people who gave their lives to give everyone else so much.

Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s official Memorial Day and it is always recognized on the day before Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day – to remind people of the price paid for Israel’s independence and the great sacrifice that everyone in Israel makes for freedom. The students of YCQ remembered and honored that sacrifice, as well, so that even outside of Israel we can show appreciation for those who secure a homeland for the Jewish people. Blair Greenfield, grade 7, said, “A moment of silence gives us a chance to stop and think of someone other than ourselves for a moment.”