Yom HaZikaron/Yom Ha’Atzmaut

What does Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) & Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Independence Day) mean to our local shlichim (emissaries)?

Each year, The Jewish Federation’s Community Shlichim Program brings shlichim (emissaries) to Greater Washington. The program connects Israelis with our community and transforms how thousands of community members deepen their connection and relationship to Israel.

Through a program of  The Jewish Agency for Israel and generous funding from Federation, our community will benefit from the nation’s largest-ever mishlachat (delegation) of community shlichim to serve in our community’s congregations and schools. The community shlichim are dedicated to the Jewish people, Jewish heritage, and to Israel. They are hand-picked from different parts of Israeli society and diverse professional backgrounds.

These programs are powered by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Community Shlichim Program.

Yom Hashoah 2021

Zikaron Basalon זיכרון בסלון. We Remember

Tuesday, April 6 | 7:30 PM
Hosted by: Naama Kadosh, Bender JCC of Greater Washington

(זִכָּרוֹן בַּסָּלוֹן, “memories in the living room”) Family, friends, and guests gather in private homes to commemorate this day in an authentic and intimate way, to express, discuss, and most importantly—to listen.

This year we invite you to join us from your own living room for a meaningful conversation with Bender JCC community member and Holocaust survivor, Ruth Eisenberg. Ruth will share her moving story of survival and perseverance.


Zikaron Basalon

Thursday, April 8 | 7:30 PM
Hosted by: Netta Asner, B’nai Israel Congregation

B’nai Israel’s Shlicha Netta Asner-Minster will be facilitating two discussions, one for teens and the other for adults. The teen discussion will be led by Esther Bergman who was born in Belgium and was hidden during the war. The adult discussion will be led by Ruth Eisenberg, who was born in Ukraine and was six years old at the beginning of the war.



Witnesses in Uniform

Thursday, April 8 | 11:00 AM
Hosted by: Talia Garber, Congregation B’nai Tzedek

A unique look at Yom Ha’Shoah; I will show segments from a documentary film of the IDF officers’ trip to Poland (called עדים במדים= “Witnesses in Uniform”) I made in the army, where I give a glimpse of what it was like to walk in that place as a soldier. The presentation will be followed by a discussion about the significance of this day, how it gains new meaning when you are in uniform, what it is like in Israel on this day, and how important it is to keep these stories alive even after our survivors are sadly no longer with us.



In Their Footsteps

Tuesday, April 13 | 1:00 PM

On the eve of Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day), we will commemorate IDF soldiers and victims of terror at the largest international virtual ceremony for the Jewish world. Our English-speaking ceremony is a chance for Jews from around the world to participate in a meaningful ceremony from a personal, communal, and national perspective.

This year, the theme of the ceremony is “In Their Footsteps,” in recognition of the determination exhibited by new immigrant soldiers who left everything behind and made Aliyah in order to enlist in the IDF. During the ceremony, we will relate the stories of the fallen men and women soldiers, as well as civilians who died during terrorist attacks who have paved the way for us and left behind a legacy of values, identity, and sacrifice.


Taste of Memories

Tuesday, April 13 | 7:30 PM
Hosted by: Talia Garber, Congregation B’nai Tzedek

“Taste of Memories” is a program created to connect the Jewish community all over the world to Yom Hazikaron in a meaningul way—a way to remember through food and love. We all have a special dish or recipe that reminds us of someone dear to us and this is our way to keep them with us and cherish their memory. We will cook and taste the dishes, hear the stories behind them, the bereaved families and the memories of fallen soldiers. Please join me on a journey of memories, tastes, and stories. We will be baking Hadar Cohen’s Chocolate Cake.


Tekes Ma’avar (Transition Ceremony)

Wednesday, April 14 | 7:15 PM
Hosted by: Netta Asner, B’nai Israel Congregation

This transition ceremony between Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s independence day, will explore the difficult transition between them that Israelis experience. This brief session will share some stories of loss and, more importantly, focus on the quick change from grief to celebration.


Zikaron Packets

Wednesday, April 14 | Throughout the day
Hosted by: Netta Asner, B’nai Israel Congregation

T: Create your own personal connection to Israel’s Memorial Day by signing up for a ‘Zikaron packet.’ This packet contains the bio of an individual soldier, the song written by or about this soldier, and the link to the song online. This way, as a family or an individual, you can learn about a soldier who lost his/her life defending Israel, how Israel commemorates its soldiers, and how these songs have become part of Israel’s national songbook.

Email Netta at netta@bnaiisraelcong.org to receive your own Zikaron packet.

You Can’t Ask That – People with PTSD from the IDF

Wednesday, April 14 | 7:00 PM
Hosted by: Rotem Ur, Shaare Torah

You Can’t Ask That! The Israeli show that gets right down to business. Join Rotem Ur, Shlicha at Shaare Torah Congregation, for a deeper dive into different parts of Israeli society. In honor of Yom Hazikaron, we will watch the episode with people who have PTSD from their time in the IDF and have a discussion. discuss.


Yom Ha'Atzmaut

Yom Ha’Atzmaut – Official Celebration in the United States

Wednesday, April 14 | 8:00 PM
Hosted by: The Embassy of Israel to the United States

The Embassy of Israel to the United States is officially celebrating Israel’s 73th anniversary with a virtual event on Wednesday, April 14th at 8:00pm EST. The event will premiere on the Embassy’s Facebook and Youtube pages and will feature greetings from H.E. Gilad Erdan, Ambassador of Israel to the United States and to the United Nations, other special guests, and a showcase of Israel’s achievements from across the United States.

Follow The Embassy of Israel to the United States on Facebook

Israeli Shacharit

Thursday, April 15 | 8:30 PM
Hosted by: Rotem Ur, Shaare Torah

Yom Ha’atzmaut has become its own Israeli holiday. To honor it, we will have an Israel Shacharit who will read Israel’s declaration of independence, sing Hallel in Israeli tunes and more!


Defending Israel

Thursday, April 15 | 7:30 PM
Hosted by: Netta Asner (in cooperation with Rotem Ur, Sha’are Torah and Yasmin, Agudas Achim)

In honor of Israel’s national days, we will have a special IDF panel showcasing and sharing a variety of different IDF positions, shared by former IDF soldiers who are all currently located in the DMV area. The panelists positions include combat, intelligence, education and the Spokespersons Unit, sharing the varied positions that all assist the function of the IDF.


Bender JCC Yom Ha’atzmaut Party Box

Thursday, April 15 | 4:30 PM
Hosted by: Naama Kadosh, Bender JCCGW

Mark this day with a special Party Box and the option of celebrating with us in person.  The Party Box will include tasty treats, fun activities, decorations, Israeli recipes, and a memorial candle to mark Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s official Memorial Day for fallen soldiers.

We are also offering two options for you to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut:

1) Register to purchase a Yom Ha’atzmaut Party Box and enjoy it at our outdoor celebration for families led by our Shlicha, Naama Kadosh, on April 15 at 4:30 PM.  Naama will teach us the meaning of the holiday, lead us in fun activities, special prayers, and more. Come ready to dance and celebrate! You MUST register in advance for the in-person celebration.

2) Register to purchase a Yom Ha’atzmaut party box and enjoy it at home.


Music of Israel Through the Ages

April 15 | 7:30 PM
Hosted by: Talia Garber , Congregation B’nai Tsedek

Join Talia on a journey through time with music that affects history and history that affects music! No need for previous knowledge, just open ears and hearts!


The Victory of Israeli Music: From “Hallelujah“ to “Toy”

Sunday, April 18 | 11:30 AM
Hosted by: Shy Ashkenazi, Pozez JCC in collaboration (in partnership with Bender JCCGW, Edlavitch DCJCC, and Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island)

Israeli Society historically built its narrative on war and conflict when suddenly, at the end of the 70’s, their narrative began to change. Culturally, Israel was growing and evolving in many ways, even landing them two consecutive victories in the Eurovision song contest.
How does culture reflect Israeli society and how do you create change via culture? Can culture change a narrative? Join us for a special Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration as we host Doron Medalie, a key figure in the Israeli music industry, as he tells us the story of Israel, the culture, and the music that put Israel on the map.


Yom Ha’Atzmaut Masterclass with Jimbo JJimbo J with gas mask in white hoodie

Thursday April 22 | 7:o0 PM –8:00 PM
Hosted by: Federation’s Community Shlichim

This April, popular Israeli hip-hop band Jimbo J invites you to be a guest artist for their special Yom Ha’Atzamaut Musical Masterclass.

Celebrate Israel with other music lovers for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn with rising star, lead vocalist and writer, Jimbo, as he breaks down the process of writing and composing some of his most popular songs.

During the class, Jimbo will perform his hits “Asiti,” “Matkot,” and “Hollywood” accompanied by the band’s guitarist, Uriah Wiztum, and reflect on pressing Israeli issues that inspire his work. And, he will also unveil a special surprise in celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut!


Personal Reflections from the Shlichim for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzamut

Talia Garber, Adas Israel Congregation
This month we commemorate two very important days in Israel—Yom Ha’Zikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (יום הזיכרון ויום העצמאות); the National Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and terror attack victims and Israel’s Independence Day. The fact that these two days—a memorial day and a big celebration—are marked together is significant, even if it feels a little odd. First, we celebrate the fallen soldiers who fought to defend Israel’s right to exist, and then we celebrate that which they fought to defend—Israel’s independence.
The importance of remembering that the fallen are the reason we have a country helps get us through the very drastic transition between these two days. There is something very comforting in knowing that the whole country is grieving together and, in these times, you really feel the strength and unity of the Israeli people.
During my shlichut, I hope I can make Yom Ha’Zikaron memorable for the community of Greater Washington by connecting them to the memory of those who protected Israel. This way, when we celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut, we can truly know what we are thankful for.
Shy Ashkenazi, Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia
Growing up in Israel, and in a household with a father who is an officer in reserve, you know you will wear a uniform one day. As a child and teenager, Yom HaZikaron was a powerful day with meaning that, for me, came through ceremonies at school, television broadcasts, and by going with my father to Mt. Hertzl to visit the graves and remembering those he knew who fell in the war.
Eventually, it was my turn to join the IDF. With that, I hoped and maybe almost did not believe, that this day would change for me. I never thought that the memories of this day would become memories of the ones I knew—of those I want to remember and honor. As one of my favorite songs says— “who of us dreamed back then in the classroom, when we learned to recite ‘on your walls Jerusalem I posted guards’, that a day will come and I will be one of them.”
Growing up in Israel, being proud to serve, being proud of those who served, makes Yom HaZikaron one of the most meaningful days. And to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut afterwards, it is important to celebrate our country and not to take it for granted.
Netta Asner Minster, B’nai Israel Congregation
When I was drafted into the IDF in April 2014, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut ended up falling at the end of my basic training. To my surprise, we were notified at the last minute that we would have to stay on base for a while longer. I was devastated as I was looking forward to being home with my family. While I was on guard duty later that evening, one of our officers said to me, “You most likely will only serve for two years and this is one of those years that you have the opportunity to be in your uniform, protecting your base, on the day that we not only honor those who have fallen while wearing these same uniforms, but also the day after that, when because of the IDF and those soldiers, we can also celebrate our independence.” I remember distinctly standing in my row of soldiers on Erev Yom Hazikaron holding my weapon, singing Hatikvah very loudly and passionately, while the officer’s words rung in my mind. She was right as that was the only time I was ever on the base for Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut. It was truly once in a lifetime experience for me.

Rotem Ur, Shaare Torah
It always starts with me searching my closet for a white shirt. These two days of such stark contrast are both always represented in the small things, which for me means a white shirt.  Leaving the house to walk down the hill to the ceremony, I would wear my white shirt and black pants. The night after for the celebratory “kumzitz,” it would be a white shirt and blue pants. These two days of sheer sadness and happiness, of day and night, of ceremonies, graves, sirens, songs, dancing, and fireworks all somehow come together in that one moment—looking for a white shirt.

Yael Gruenfeld, Congregation Beth Shalom
“For years, Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut have been days when I remember and appreciate those who lost their lives in order for Israel to exist. Since my army service, these days have become much more important. I finally understood what it means to serve my country in order to protect the people I love. Me being on shlichut is just another way to express how proud I am of the accomplishments of my this small, young and beautiful country and what it means to the world.” 
Yasmin Drescher, Agudas Achim
Being away from Israel during the “National Days” (Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut) is bizarre. These couple of weeks in Israel are always a time of constant buzz. You are busy planning and chatting about ceremonies you will attend, rituals to take part in, and parties to attend. This year, I will be away from Israel during this time of year for the first time since making Aliyah ten years ago. One the one hand, I feel disconnected from my people and my country. On the other, I feel that it is a privilege to find ways to connect my congregation to these feelings that I experience during this time. I think that all these juxtapositions–home/abroad, Israel/USA, virtual/in person, grief/celebration–are what makes these coming weeks so uniquely momentous.
Katya Davidzon, Moed Educational Program – Bethesda
Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut for me are two unique days when our very diverse nation unites. On Yom HaZikaron everyone feels the pain of those who lost loved ones and mourns along with them. And on the evening of the next day, on Yom Ha’atzmaut, we are celebrating the Independence Day of our small and beautiful Israel.
There is something in the air during those 48 hours that is hard to describe. You have to be in Israel to feel it.
I was drafted into the IDF in April 2010, the month when Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut take place. I remember how proud I was to attend all the ceremonies in my IDF uniform that year, and being part of such an important body in Israel during these two meaningful and impactful days.
Noa Ohayon Bab, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
“I was born Jewish, but I actively choose to lead a Jewish life. I was born in Israel, but I actively choose to live in Israel. Living in Israel is almost always making an active choice, also leaving Israel. A friend of mine has three sons, when the boys turned 8, 10 & 13, The family packed their 10 suitcases and moved to Australia.  She said, “I can’t send three sons to the IDF,” and I understood her. I understood even better once my own son was born 2 years ago. 
Though Israel has had to fight many wars, from the very beginning, she sought peace. Yom HaZikaron to me, is all about that, commemoration, cherishing every single soul we lost who made the exciting State of Israel possible.  At the same time, aspiring for a more just society and the endless hope for a safer and better tomorrow.  Many times, my friends abroad ask me, how do I live with the constant threat of fear and war? My answer is always – is, that takes faith. Israel is the people that has always been sustained by faith, faith in God, in the future, in life itself. The country’s very existence is testimony to faith: the faith of a hundred generations that Jews would return; the faith that led the pioneers to rebuild a land against seemingly impossible odds; the faith that after the Holocaust the Jewish people could live again; the faith that, in the face of death, continues to say: choose life. 
We choose to go on this journey on shlichut, to represent Israel and share those stories and narratives. I’m excited for my family’s first Yom Ha’Atzmaut abroad, for us to be here, with the Jewish community of Greater Washington. Choosing life together.”


Yom HaShoah

Hitkansut – an evening of remembrance through texts – The Hartman Institute

Yom HaZikaron & Yom Ha’atzmaut

What is Yom HaZikaron and how does Israel observe it?

The iCenter

Yom Ha’atzmaut Playlists

Models of Peoplehood: An iEngage Study Guide

From Yom Hashoah to Yom Ha’atzmaut: The New ‘High Holidays’ of Israel
Much has been written about the apparent gap between Israeli and Diaspora Jews. In this article, Donniel Hartman unpacks the themes of Yom Hashoa (Holocaust Rememberance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Military Memorial Day), and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day). Calling them “The New High Holidays of Israel,” Hartman explains how these days of memory and rollercoaster emotions “redefines Israel as a family that mourns together, embraces life and challenges us to live it to the fullest.”







Yom HaAtzmaut: The HA = the (and since it’s a specific day/date you need that to delineate its status); Atzmaut = Independence and is capitalized here because the convention is that when you use Ha as a modifier to differentiate between “a” something and “the” specific something you are talking about that specific something becomes like a proper noun in English; So The day of Independence in Hebrew is Yom HaAztmaut as opposed to a day of independence which would just be yom aztmaut