Remembering Yom Hazikaron in Champaign-Urbana

It was late Sunday afternoon as I sat in my dorm room attempting to finish my ECON 202 homework. The sun was leisurely setting while my mind was swarming with p values, z charts, and t charts. My phone buzzed next to me, indicating a received text message. My dizzying mind slowed down, and I read the text next to me.

Hillel was having a Yom Hazikaron memorial service.

That morning I shared on Facebook the same Times of Israel article that Sarah Tuttle-Singer shared commemorating Yom Hazikaron. I processed the 23,169 fallen soldiers. I processed the 2,495 victims of terror. I then went on with my studying.

But I wanted to do something more than just sharing an article on Facebook.

Throwing on my jean jacket, I took my pre-finals studying break and walked over to Hillel. Upon entering the building, I was met with a sea of white clothing. Instantly, I realized that I underestimated the impact and importance of this service in my university community. Parents, professors, children, and students were slowly making their way into the room where the ceremony was to take place. I saw ages old and young, all bearing solemn faces. Faces I had never seen before. I walked in, signed my name for attendance, and took a bright blue sticker.

I have never attended a Yom Hazikaron Memorial Day service before.

My ears deafened by the opening siren that played from the screen before me. My heart saddened when I understood the meaning behind the silver platter. My eyes dampened learning of Oz’s bravery.

My ears rejoiced from the beautiful singing and soft guitar coming from the two students. My heart lifted seeing all of the rabbis on campus united and speaking together in the ceremony. My eyes dampened seeing a young boy—not yet a bar mitzvah—and his recorder leading the service.

A solemn mood and serious tone dominated the ceremony. Yet there was a passionate, determined, and committed energy coming from deep within the participants … the community. We sat and stood separately, differentiated by mother tongue and age. We sat and stood united, remembering those who have fallen for our beloved Homeland.

About the Author
Hannah Schlacter is a student at the University of Illinois College of Business Honors Program. Passion, ambition, and drive embody her character and impact. Considered a leader in advocacy, she is deeply committed to Zionism, environmentalism, and entrepreneurship. Hannah seeks a career path that will allow her to impact these diverse passions.
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