WATCH: For Israelis, Country’s Memorial Day is Somber, Personal

JNS.org — Israel and the U.S. share many values and traditions—including holding national days of commemoration for fallen soldiers. Yet there are sharp cultural differences marking the Memorial Day observances in each nation.

“Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) is so meaningful to Israelis, because everyone is directly connected to it. You’re never more than one person away from someone who was killed in battle, or someone who was killed by a terrorist. No one’s removed from it,” said Ari Kalker, director of housing and special projects at Israel’s Lone Soldier Center, an organization “dedicated to meeting all of the physical and social needs” of soldiers without relatives in Israel.

Yom Hazikaron is one of the most somber days on the Israeli calendar, along with Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) just a week earlier. Yom Hazikaron is marked by nationwide sirens at 8 p.m. the preceding evening, and then at 11 a.m., denoting moments of silence where the entire nation grinds to a halt. Even drivers pull over to the side of the road and stand next to their vehicles.

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