Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) is always the most solemn day on the calendar in the Jewish State. Residents throughout the State of Israel would ordinarily visit military cemeteries to honor the 23,816 IDF soldiers and victims of terror, who paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the safety and security of the Jewish People. This year, the Coronavirus has prevented this hallowed tradition from taking place and the Israeli government has closed military cemeteries on Yom Hazikaron to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, that did not stop Meir Panim volunteers from finding a special way to honor the fallen soldiers, on the day before Yom Hazikaron.
Meir Panim’s Or Akiva Branch Manager Ilanit Hafuta was distressed by the thought that local family members would be unable to visit their loved one’s graves on Yom Hazikaron. She therefore organized 15 volunteers to visit the Or Akiva military cemetery to light memorial candles, and place flowers and Israeli flags on the graves of fallen soldiers, a touching initiative that was covered by local Israeli news outlets.
In addition to the flowers and Israeli flags, the volunteers recited the Kaddish memorial prayer at the soldier’s graves.
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“We understood that it would be very difficult for the families of the fallen soldiers not to be able to visit, not to be able to light candles or say the Kaddish prayer this Yom Hazikaron,” said Hafuta. “We therefore decided at Meir Panim to organize volunteers and show our respect and love to the fallen soldiers of Or Akiva. We went from grave to grave and honored each fallen soldier as a message to their families, that we are here, and that we remember their sacrifice.”