Let’s Schmooze!
Like Me, Pretty Please!
Subscribe to the Tribe!

Enter your e-mail address to get Mishegas of Motherhood in your Inbox:


Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Remembering the Fallen Soldiers…Celebrating the Future

Why does Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day occur back to back on the Jewish calendar? Because, first we remember…then we celebrate. To find out how YOU can play an active role in these two holidays starting tomorrow, brew a cup of cherry blossom tea and READ ON.

From grief to gratitude, this is a bridge we cross when overcoming some of our biggest struggles, including the coronavirus pandemic that has brought much pain and suffering to so many people. We mourn, and with the grace of God, support from others, and an inner resolve we didn’t know we had, we find joy and purpose again.

The ebb and flow in life, from sorrow to celebration, is what the next two holidays in Israel are all about–Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day). It is no coincidence that these two significant events are intertwined.

The transition from heartache to hope is a formula for survival. In fact, connecting these two contrasting experiences has allowed Israel to survive and thrive no matter what befalls the Jewish people…war, boycotts, anti-Semitism, and other calamities. And through it all, the Jewish nation has never stopped contributing to the worldwide society through technology, education, science, medicine, culture, music, arts, agriculture, humanities, and yes, a coronavirus vaccine.

On Yom Hazikaron, we honor the fallen soldiers, the young men and women, who made the ultimate sacrifice for the modern state of Israel to exist. When a mother sends her 18-year-old son or daughter off to serve in the Israel Defense Force, she knows and accepts the reality that it could be their last goodbye.

And the next day, on Yom Ha’atzmaut, we switch gears and rejoice. This day is a time to celebrate because in 1948, the Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel—the first Jewish state in 2,000 years.

As Ben Gurion famously said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.”

We were fortunate to be in Israel visiting Jack in 2019 during Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut and I remember exactly where we were in Tel Aviv when the siren blared across the entire state on Israel’s Memorial Day and everyone paused for a moment of silence. The only other noise came from birds chirping overhead and Israeli flags flapping in the wind that decorated every building.

It was an extra special day for us because our tour guide

Yael Friedman Vatury

led us 30 miles south of Tel Aviv to the Ayalon Institute, an underground ammunition factory disguised as part of a kibbutz to fool the British back in 1940s. This secret place was the size of a tennis court, and yet its impact on the Jewish future was immeasurable. At its peak, between 1945 and 1948, the Jewish factory workers produced about 40,000 bullets a day —a total of more than two million 9mm bullets—that were smuggled to places all over the country.

Here’s where the suprise came in…On our private tour, Yael took us to a small office in the back of the museum where she opened a box that contained an old dusty army jacket, bullets, and a rifle that belonged to her grandfather Arieh Friedman, who was a member of Haganah underground organization that served in the War of Independence. (1947-1949).

“For me, his jacket smells like a unique combination of honey and gunpowder. He used to make honey and my guess is that he concealed the weapon wrapped in the jacket, in his tiny underground basement, where he also stored his honey and homemade wine,” said Yael, who served in active duty for almost five years and an additional eight years in the reserve.

This moment sharing her grandfather’s war belongings was personal for Yael and, of course, a privilege for us. In her active service, this mom of three also served as a heavy weapon trainer, then as an officer at the paratroopers, followed by time as a platoon commander, training soldiers to be trainers. Together with her brigade she served during the second Lebanon War and much more before she gave up her military career to become a fulltime tour guide with her parents.

Later that day at sundown, as a united country, we switched gears. A national torch-lighting ceremony took place at Mount Herzl to usher in Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut. President Reuven Rivlin delivered a speech and congratulated the soldiers representing the Army, Navy, and Air Force.


We were familiar with Mount Herzl because we toured there earlier in the week. Also known as “Mount of Remembrance,” this is the site of Israel’s national cemetery and other memorial and educational facilities, located beside Jerusalem Forest. It is named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism, and his tomb lies at the top of the hill. Israel’s fallen soldiers are also buried in the beautifully manicured grounds and are open to many memorial services.

Israel Independence Day is a formal holiday, a day off work for most people, so many locals gather outside for picnics and hike on trails. We enjoyed meeting some of Jack’s friends and co-workers at a neighborhood park where we grilled kabobs and waved blue and white Israeli flags that we bought the day before from a young boy selling souvenirs in the middle of a busy street.

Israel’s 71st birthday party continued into the night with concerts, air shows, breakdancing in Ben Yehuda (hello, Jack), and champagne toasts by the rooftop pool at the Orient hotel in Jerusalem.

You don’t have to be in Israel to take part in Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’arzmaut, all you have to do is register for the Momentum programs in the links below. It’s a way to remember….then celebrate with other people from all over the world. Learn how these holidays intertwine grief and joy, and hear from the mothers and soldiers who know the true meaning Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’arzmaut.

To register for “Stand Still: How Israelis Grieve on Yom HaZikaron” on MONDAY, APRIL 12 AT 8PM ET, GO HERE or check out

Mishegas of Motherhood



To Celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut , Israeli Independence Day, on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14 AT 8PM ET, GO HERE: