Alisha Goodman, LMSW
Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut
The beginning of May brings two holidays that are celebrated in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut. Yom Hazikaron commemorates the fallen soldiers of Israel and Yom Haatzmaut is Israels independence day. By establishing the date of Yom Hazikaron as the day before Yom Haatzmaut, the Israeli government sends a clear message that the creation of the State of Israel is due to the willingness of these fallen soldiers to give their lives to ensure Israels survival. Both holidays are marked by public and private ceremonies. In many ways, Jewish wisdom and understanding about human psychological and spiritual needs that guided the development of these holidays has also guided the work of the Jewish Health, Healing and Recovery Network.
In helping people deal with losses, our Jewish Connections Programs have learned to encourage people to acknowledge those losses both within their own families and, among people with similar experiences, in peer support groups. We have found it highly effective to use Jewish text, ritual objects and activities to mark the losses and changes in our lives. Just as Yom Hazikaron is commemorated in Israel and in our community through a range of ceremonies, both at home and in the public sector, we too find it very helpful to encourage people to deal with their loss on a variety of levels and places. We provide groups and workshops that help people gain support from others in the community, and we offer suggestions for rituals that can be performed in the home as well.
At dusk, Yom Hazikaron turns into Yom Haatzmaut. After our losses have been acknowledged in a day of somber activities, we then begin a celebration, remembering and cherishing all we have gained from those we have lost. So too in Jewish healing, we encourage people to remember loved ones by creating a future that honors and reflects their memories.
These "Spirituality Notes" are excerpts from our monthly E-newsletter. Articles are © JBFCS Rita J. Kaplan Jewish Connections Programs and may be reprinted free of charge as long as this credit line is included.