Yom Hazikaron

Celebrating Israeli Holidays With A Home-Style Sensibility

05/13/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Most American Jewish institutions, such as day schools and synagogues, make a point of observing Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day.

Israeli consular official Shahar Azani at Westchester’s Yom HaZikaron event.   Merri Rosenberg/JW

Yom Hazikaron and Memorial Day: How We Remember

05/31/2013
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Remembering those brave men and women who have fallen in battle in defense of their homeland is any country's solemn responsibility.  A commitment to remember their ultimate sacrifice is the most effective guarantee that their lives will not have been lost in vain.  Those who survive them, and live free because of them, owe them at least this much, and of course so much more...

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik is spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center.

April’s Multiple Messages

04/04/2013
Editorial

April is a month crowded with Jewish observances and remembrances this year, both ancient and modern.

Fresh off of Passover and its inspiring message of freedom and spiritual liberation we face the cruel reality of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed on Sunday, April 7, recalling a time not only when 20th-century European Jews were denied their freedom but systematically put to death simply because they were Jewish. We are painfully aware that each year there are fewer survivors within our midst to give personal testimony to the tragedy. All the more reason why we should take part in religious and communal observances that mark the day, often featuring survivors telling their own stories.

Six million is an almost impossible number to think of in terms of victims of the Nazi regime. But one person’s authentic recollections can be a powerful reminder of the human suffering that took place and the physical and psychological scars that remain.

Recent events in Europe provide a troubling echo of the fact that anti-Semitism is still with us. Attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, whether they are explained as anti-Israel in nature or motivated by hatred of Jews, are deeply worrying. They need to be addressed not only through statements by government officials but by civic and religious leaders in the local communities as well as through vigilance against future destructive acts and educational programs in the schools.

In Israel, Jews throughout the country will mark April 15 as Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day for the thousands killed in the country’s wars these last six decades. Those who have been in Israel on that day understand that it is a far more somber, emotional observance than Memorial Day in the U.S. When the blast signaling a moment of silence across the country sounds, all movement stops, and one realizes that hardly a family in the Jewish state has not suffered a loss in Israel’s struggle for independence and survival.

In typical Israeli fashion, though, mourning and joy rub against each other as Yom HaZikaron gives way to Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, April 16. Perhaps the celebration is so spirited because people realize the depth of sacrifice that led to statehood.

Then, closing out the month of April, comes Lag b’Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer between Passover and Shavuot. Though a minor, ancient holiday, it is a joyous one. But there is no definitive reason why. Some say it is because the Jews marked a victory on that day in ancient times in the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans; others say it was the only day no students of Rabbi Akiva died during a weeks-long plague. But neither explanation indicates a time for celebration. Still, amidst a calendar fraught with solemn occasions and anniversaries, it’s good to have a day to rejoice. We can always find a reason to be grateful.

As we enter a month rich in Jewish tradition and history, we note that its peaks and valleys reflect the human condition, with times to laugh and times to cry, and a responsibility to find meaning in each.

Celebrate Israel In Its Entirety

04/26/2012
Special To The Jewish Week Online

For me, like for most Israelis, the two weeks between the end of Passover and Yom Haatzma’ut, Israel’s Independence Day, are a time of year in which big concepts materialize in one’s daily life - our emergence as a people in the Exodus, the memory of the horrors of the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah, the remembrance, on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day), of the Fallen, through the celebration of the founding of the State of Israel.

Israel At 64, Strong But On Edge

04/24/2012
Editorial

As the State of Israel marked its 64th anniversary of statehood this week, with its population approaching 8 million, it has never seemed as powerful — or as vulnerable.

The Jewish state is a vibrant, messy democracy. It is the spiritual center of the Jewish people, having fulfilled one of Zionism’s key missions in providing a haven for persecuted Jews from around the world despite being in a state of war with Arab neighbors since the day it was founded.

Yom Hashoah Thoughts

04/19/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Re-entry from Israel to New York is always a surreal experience for me.  Where I live in central Queens is one of the most densely populated Jewish areas in the United States. There is little Jewish that is lacking here.  Outside of Israel, there are very few, if any, places in the United States where you can get quite as many Israeli products as my greater neighborhood, But after spending ten days in Jerusalem, I am reminded of just how much New York is not Israel.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik is the spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens.

Woman Killed In Collapse Of Stage At Jerusalem's Mt. Hertzl

04/18/2012

 

One woman was killed and several people were injured after a stage collapsed on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

The collapse came Wednesday afternoon during a rehearsal for the national Memorial Day ceremony to be held next week, according to reports.

A bank of heavy lights crashed to the stage, according to reports. The accident occured shortly after a large group of soldiers participating in the ceremony left the scene. One of the injured is reported to be in moderate condition.

Thoughts On That Israeli Ad Campaign

12/08/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

 

Much ink has already been spilled on the ill-fated ad campaign launched by Israel’s Ministry of Absorption, aimed at convincing Israelis living here in the United States to return to Israel. I’m afraid I’m going to spill a little more.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik is the spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens.

Israelis Observe National Memorial Day

05/08/2011

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- With a minute-long siren and moment of silence in memory of its war dead, Israel began its observance of Memorial Day, or Yom Hazikaron.

The annual observance of Remembrance Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism is in memory of the nearly 23,000 men and women who have fallen in battle for the State of Israel and the some 2,500 other Israelis who have been victims of terrorist attacks.

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