Below is a collection of Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut lesson plans, interactive tools, and articles created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.  

 

Yom Hazikaron Overview

  • What: Yom HaZikaron L’Chalalei Me’archot Yisrael, יום הזיכרון לחללי מערכות ישראל, is the official remembrance day for fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror.
  • When: Yom HaZikaron is on the 4th of Iyyar, intentionally set as the day preceding Yom HaAtzmaut — Israeli Independence Day — in order to remind us of the sacrifices made for the independent State of Israel.  
  • Where: Yom HaZikaron is an Israeli national holiday but is recognized by Jews around the world.
  • How: Yom HaZikaron opens with a minute-long siren at 8:00 pm.  There are remembrance ceremonies throughout Israel that take place in the evening in addition to ceremonies throughout the following day.  The country’s main nighttime ceremony takes place at the Western Wall and the main day time memorial service occurs on Mount Herzl (the official military cemetery.) At 11 am, there is another 2 minute-long siren that is sounded.  All places of entertainment are closed and television channels play the names of every fallen soldier. The day ends with a Tekes Ma’avar (transitional ceremony) into Yom HaAtzmaut that takes place on Mount Herzl.

YOM HAATZMAUT HOLIDAY OVERVIEW

  • What: Yom HaAzmaut is the official Israeli Independence Day, celebrating the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948.
  • Where: Yom HaAtzmaut is an Israeli national holiday but is recognized and celebrated by Jews around the world.
  • When: On the Hebrew calendar, its official date is the 5th of Iyyar.
  • How: In Israel, Yom HaAtzmaut starts off with a Tekes Ma’avar (transitional ceremony) from Yom HaZikaron.  Many religious Zionists will participate in a celebratory prayer service that evening and the following morning, during which Hallel is often recited. Yom HaAtzmaut is a day off for Israelis and many people celebrate it by spending the day with their families and having a barbecue at the park.

 

Yom Hazikaron Vocabulary
English Transliteration

Translation

Hebrew

Chaleli Tzahal

Israeli fallen soldiers

חללי צה״ל

Nifga’ay Peulot Aivah/Terror

Victims of terror

נפגעי פעולות איבה/טרור

Tekes Ma’avar

The ceremony that takes place as a transition between Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut.  Israel’s official ceremony takes place on Mount Herzl, where they remember the fallen and also rejoice in the present by celebrating outstanding individuals in the State of Israel and performing songs and dances. 

טקס מעבר

Al ha’aish, mangal

Hebrew names for “barbeque” which is the Israeli meal of choice on Independence day.

על האש, מנגל

Tekes Ma’avar

The ceremony that takes place as a transition between Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut.  

טקס מעבר

Mount Herzl (Har Herzl)

The official military cemetery and the burial place of Israel’s leaders, (including Theodor Herzl, the visionary of the State of Israel).

הר הרצל

Tzfirah

The siren that is played throughout Israel twice over the course of Yom HaZikaron, once at 8:00 pm (for one minute) at the start of the memorial day, and once at 11:00 am (for two minutes) the following morning.  The whole country stands in a moment of silence to remember the fallen.

צפירה

 

Yom HaAtzmaut Vocabulary
English Transliteration

Translation

Hebrew

Atzmaut

Independence

עצמאות

Himnon

Anthem (referring to Israel’s national anthem, the Hatikvah)

הימנון

Rikud Degalim

Flag dance – performed every year at Israel’s official Tekes Ma’avar

ריקוד דגלים

Al ha’aish, mangal

Barbecue –  the Israeli meal of choice on Independence Day

על האש, מנגל

Tekes Ma’avar

The ceremony that takes place as a transition between Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut 

טקס מעבר

Tefillah Chagigit

Celebratory prayer (prayers on Yom HaAtzmaut are usually sung in a celebratory fashion and the Hallel prayer is often included)

תפילה חגיגית

Milchemet Atzmaut

The War of Independence. This war took place immediately after the State of Israel was declared in 1948

מלחמת 

Yom Hazikaron Educational Themes
  • National identity
  • The sacrifice of the individual for the nation
  • Remembering the fallen
  • National memory versus individual memory (personal loss versus national loss)
Yom HaAtzmaut Educational Themes
  • Secular vs. Religious Zionism
  • Nationalism
  • How to relate to Israel as diaspora jews
  • Gratitude and remembrance of the fallen before celebrating in the present
  • Modern miracles
Yom HaZikaron Ideas for Commemoration
  • Read thematic poetry, such as the ones found here
  • Research an individual fallen soldier.
  • Discuss family connections to the IDF.
  • Light memorial candles and recite traditional memorial prayers.
  • Have a traditional commemorative ceremony, such as the ones described here or here.
  • Contact a speaker to come to your classroom.
Yom HaAtzmaut Ideas for Celebration
  • Eat Israeli style cuisine, such as falafel, shwarma, shakshuka, couscous, Israeli salad, pita, lafa, humus
  • Flag dancing (coordinated dances with the Israeli flag)
  • Listen to  Israeli songs
  • Host an Israeli-style barbecue in the park
  • Have a tefilla chagigit

YOM HAZIKARON RESOURCES AND WEBSITES

Izkor – This is the official website of the Israeli government for remembering the fallen.
The Face, the Day, A Memorial – This artistic initiative from Beit Avi Chai transforms memories from the lives of fallen IDF soldiers into animated films.
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs – This page has many resources for commemorating fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
The Lone Soldier Center  – This website has many resources for supporting lone soldiers currently serving in the IDF and commemorations for fallen soldiers.
The National Library of Israel  – These Yom HaZikaron resources include lesson plans, activities, and more.
The Israel Forever Foundation – These Yom HaZikaron resources include articles, activities, and more.

YOM HAATZMAUT RESOURCES AND ACTIVITIES

Israel Stamp Activity – This booklet in simple Hebrew teaches elementary students about Israeli stamps and letter-writing and can easily be adapted for use in a virtual classroom. Written by The Lookstein Center-Instituto Bruckner.
Israeli Ministry of Education  – These English resources include lesson plans, songs, games, vocabulary, and more.
PJ Library – These resources for younger students include books, videos, Israeli recipes, and more.
The National Library of Israel – These lesson plans include primary sources and activity packs.
Aish – These resources include many articles and explanatory videos.
The Israel Forever Foundation – These comprehensive resources include many activities for students of all ages.
Israel Bytes by Ji Bytes – These short lessons and activities provide a taste of Jewish learning about the State of Israel.

YOM HAZIKARON VIDEOS AND SONGS

Yom HaZikaron Siren – This clip shows Jerusalem stopping for a moment of silence to pay their respects to fallen soldiers during the Yom HaZikaron silence.
Mount Herzl Memorial  – A clip from the annual national commemoration for Yom HaZikaron at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
A Tribute to Michael Levin – This video from the IDF pays tribute to fallen lone soldier Michael Levin.
Playlist for Yom Hazikaron – This video playlist includes Hebrew songs relating to Yom HaZikaron.

YOM HAATZMAUT VIDEOS AND SONGS

Declaration of Independence – This video shows live footage of David Ben-Gurion declaring Israel’s independence (English subtitles).
Weird Ways Israel Won Its War of Independence – This video from Unpacked explores the unconventional military strategies utilized by the Israeli army in the War of Independence.
What is Yom HaAtzamaut? – This video from Bimbam gives an overview of the holiday, its history, and its traditions.
How the State of Israel was Born  – This animated video tells the story of Israeli independence.
Israeli Independence Day Songs – This playlist of Hebrew songs includes many popular songs sung to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut.
Megilat Ha’Atzmaut – This song by the Maccabeats includes words from Israel’s Proclamation of Independence.

YOM HAATZMAUT ARTICLES

The Challenge of Teaching Modern Israel – This article from The Lookstein Center’s journal, Jewish Educational Leadership, explores a new approach to Israel education.
Teaching Israel, Teaching Truth: A Personal View from the Front – This article from The Lookstein Center’s journal, Jewish Educational Leadership, discusses the importance of teaching about Israel from a place of honesty.
Megillat Ha’Atzmaut: Analysis and Comparative Analysis – This article analyzes and explores the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
State and Religion – This article explores the connections that should and should not exist between the State of Israel and religion.


Do you have anything to contribute to this list? Contact content@lookstein.org