Josh Shron
Israeli Music Expert, Host, & Podcaster

Can We Experience a Meaningful Yom Hazikaron, Thousands of Miles From Israel?

In Israel, Memorial Day in unavoidable. You can feel it in the air. You can sense it everywhere you go. There is no escape…and there SHOULDN’T be.

Since everybody knows somebody personally affected by loss, the pain of Yom Hazikaron is felt by every single citizen of the country.

In Israel, Yom Hazikaron smacks you in the face whenever you turn on the radio or the television. There is a thick cloud of sorrow everywhere you turn.

Outside of Israel, however, we need to look a little deeper. We wake up, go about our day, perhaps attend a special event at our synagogue or JCC. Sure, we WANT to feel the pain of the day. We WANT to show solidarity with Israelis. But for the most part, the majority of us just can’t get ourselves to that place, hard as we may try.

There’s no siren. No special programming on the radio. No one visiting the graves of their loved ones.

So how can we in the diaspora find meaning in Yom Hazikaron?

Well, these days it’s easier than ever, thanks to the power of the internet. We can listen to internet radio in our cars. We can watch Israeli TV online. And thanks to social media, we can connect to our beloved homeland like never before.

I’d like to suggest that you start on YouTube.

A video guaranteed to help you feel the pain of Yom Hazikaron

Each year, the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization brings together a number of children who have lost parents in the IDF, and produces a video of them singing with a well-known Israeli singer. This year, they sang a heart-wrenching version of”Yeled, V’aba, V’ima” (Child, Father, and Mother) along with Harel Ska’at and Eli Botner.

The pain in these children’s eyes will affect you far more than any candlelight vigil ever could. Make sure you watch to the very end. Here’s a translation of the Hebrew lyrics:

Every time the sun sets
And when a plane in the sky flies above
You are there at those times, guarding from above
So that nothing will be missing here.

And when the first rains come
And the night is dark and lonely
You are there at those times, worrying from above
That we will not be cold.

And between us is the sea,
The sky, and maybe the world
And even those won’t come between us, my little child
And it’s possible to try to smile, to love, and to move forward
And at the end we’ll meet and we’ll be, once again
Child, father, and mother.

Every time I have a birthday
And friends come to the house
You are there at those times, observing from above
That everything here will be pleasant.

And when a baby cries
It stabs and breaks the heart
You are there at those times, guarding from above
That I will not have pain.

And between us is the sea…

But in reality, you don’t need to understand the lyrics. You just need to look at the kids’ faces, and the photos of their parents who are no longer with us.

If you want to FEEL Yom Hazikaron, there really is no better way to do it.

These videos will help you observe Yom Hazikaron outside of Israel

The kids, the lyrics, the pain…it’s impossible to watch these clips and not be drawn into these families’ painful reality. Their sorrow pierces your soul.

The organization has been producing these videos in honor of Yom Hazikaron for several years now. Last year, the kids joined Roni Dalumi to sing “Ten” (Give):

In 2017, the organization teamed up with Avraham Tal to perform an emotional version of his hit, “Mechuzakim La’olam” (Strengthened Forever):

One of their most powerful videos, arguably, was released in 2016, along with Shiri Maimon. Shiri joined the kids to sing “Sheleg BaSharav” (Snow in a Heat Wave), during which the kids wrote letters to their deceased parents while hanging their photos on the wall.

Then in 2015, Miri Mesika was the featured artist, singing her hit “Shir Tikva” (Song of Hope) along with the kids.

And finally, in 2014, the organization marked Yom Hazikaron by teaming up with Shlomi Shabbat. He joined the kids to perform a song appropriately entitled, “Aba” (Father).

We, who find ourselves thousands of miles away, could not possibly grasp the painful emotions that Israel’s Memorial Day conjures up each and every year. However, with these powerful resources, we can grieve, cry, and truly experience the pain of Yom Hazikaron – and feel connected to our brothers and sisters in Israel like never before.

About the Author
Josh Shron is host of Israel Hour Radio, a weekly radio show and podcast devoted to Israeli music and culture. Since 1994, he’s made it his mission to help English speakers around the world develop a stronger connection with Israel through Israeli music, or in his words, “build a stronger Israel, one song at a time.” He recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of making Aliyah, and has been living in Modiin, Israel with his wife and four of his five children - the oldest promises to join them soon - since August 2023. Josh's highly-acclaimed presentation about the Israeli music of October 7, "A Musical Hug From Israel," is currently touring worldwide.
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