Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut
As the State of Israel prepares for Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day for fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorism, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, celebrating its 65th year of autonomy, the various student councils of Yeshiva University are currently planning many exciting events for both campuses to enjoy. On the heels of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day which featured a well-received program entitled “The Lost Generations” organized by YU’s Student Holocaust Education Movement, the councils—Stern College for Women Student Council (SCWSC), Yeshiva College Student Association (YCSA), Yeshiva Student Union (YSU), Sy Syms Student Council (SYMSSC), Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY), and TAC (Torah Activities Council)—hope to commemorate Yom HaZikaron and celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut with “one of the largest university-wide events of the year,” as the emails advertise.
The Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut events of the past have included a memorial ceremony, dancing, and carnival booths. This year, says Yehudit Goldberg (SCW ’13), Vice President of TAC who is spearheading much of the preparation, will exhibit “some exciting changes and unexpected additions.” The Monday evening Yom HaZikaron tekes, or commemorative ceremony, will feature Rabbi Dovid Miller, the Mashgiach Ruchani here at YU for the past two years, in addition to presentations from members of the Israel Club and the Soldiers in Exile Club. Bringing experience from years in Israel, including a position as senior lecturer for the Israel Defense Forces Rabbinate, Rabbi Miller will be able to provide relevant and poignant words of reflection. Intending to appeal to students of all types—“cerebral, emotional, artistic, or spiritual,” as Goldberg puts it—the tekes will also address “the demanding moment of transition between Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, between mourning and celebration.”
To celebrate Israel’s 65th year of independence, a chagigah will follow the ceremony in the Max Stern Athletic Center. The next day will incorporate specialized prayers and Torah study as well as a lunchtime Seudat Hoda’ah with Rav Willig as the keynote speaker, organized by SOY. SOY President Gabi Weinberg (YC ’14) explains that “the Seudah provides an additional way to celebrate Israel’s independence. The energy that was seen last year was inspiring, and we think that this year will provide the same jolt of inspiration in celebration of such a momentous occasion.” There will additionally be a women-only Seduat Hoda’ah organized by TAC featuring Divrei Torah from Stern’s Judaic Studies faculty.
The rest of the day will include a barbeque, a Soul Farm concert, an art gallery, and other activities. As Adam Zimilover (YC ’13), YCSA Vice President and another organizer, puts it, “Bringing the campuses together on Yom Ha'atzmaut is always one of the highlights of the year for the student body and we're looking forward to a fun and exciting day.” It sure looks to be an exciting 24 hours for all YU students.