Lesson plan for Memorial Day | Yom Hazikron
Memorial Day | Yom Hazikaron
Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s national Remembrance Day to commemorate the country’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror. Yom Hazikaron has been marked since 1951. As of May 2016, the number of fallen soldiers was 23,447. Yom Hazikaron falls on the day before Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Israel’s Independence Day), in order to remind people of the heavy price paid for independence and of what has been achieved with the soldiers' sacrifice.
Yom Hazikaron is often a complex ceremony to program outside of Israel. Local Israelis abroad often feel the need to share their unique feelings while also questioning whether non-Israelis can fully understand these sentiments. Non-Israelis tend to feel the need to participate in the ceremony and identify fully, whilst at the same time feel emotionally detached or even alienated. It is a highly-charged day.
A Face. The Day. A Memorial
A Face. The Day. A Memorial (bac.org.il/memory) is an online commemorative project. Beit Avi Chai (Jerusalem) initiated the project in which animation artists create unique memorial stories of Israeli soldiers and victims of terror.
Recognizing the importance of Yom Hazikaron in Israeli society, Beit Avi Chai identified the need to create a meaningful project that could impart personal messages and tributes in a way that speaks to all Israelis, connecting with thousands of people through the internet.
The Perspective of Memory
→ Watch Aliyah, a film in memory of Max Steinberg, a lone soldier who fell in the battle of Shuja'iyya during Operation Protective Edge (2014).
Max Steinberg travelled to Israel with his brother on a Birthright program — though he was not very enthralled with the idea at the time. This changed after he paid a visit to Mt. Herzl a few days after landing in Israel. It was then that he decided to make Aliyah and serve in the IDF. Max enlisted in Golani and, despite missing his parents and home abroad, he felt Israel was the place to be. The People of Israel returned this love when hundreds of Israelis accompanied Max on his last journey – to his final resting place at the Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. Many of those who came to the funeral were civilians who had never met Max, but had come in response to the request, through the media, to accompany him on this last journey.
Questions for discussion ensuing from the film:
What are your feelings after watching the film?
What are the various perspectives introduced in the film?
Which artistic forms are employed to portray these perspectives?
Why do you think that so many Israelis felt close to Max Steinberg and decided to attend his funeral?
The animators who created the project’s films were not necessarily acquainted with the films’ main character. They created the films based on stories and memories shared by family and friends. What is the significance of such a tribute? How does it differ in comparison to a memorial created by family or friends? What is the significance of commemoration through the eyes of a stranger?
→ Watch the Umbilical Cord, a film in memory of Eitan Nachman who died while on active duty in 1974.
The film presents the close bond between twin brothers Eitan and Benny Nachman — a relationship forged in the womb and that was severed in one horrible moment.
Questions for discussion arising from both films:
What are your feelings after watching the films?
Can a connection between people who don’t know each other, or between communities, become as strong as the connection between Eitan and his brother Benny?
What are your thoughts regarding the relationship between world Jewry and Israeli society: the bond between twins connected at the hip — or separate communities? What is the "Jewish connection" that connects us to world Jewry?
To watch additional films, read more about Max and Eitan, and for further information about the project, click here.
Based on a lesson plan by Tamar Rechnitz