Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism on the Hebrew date 4 Iyar. This day is Israel’s official Memorial Day, enacted into law in 1963. Yom Hazikaron begins at sundown (8.00pm) when a siren is sounded across the country for one minute. Everybody stops what they are doing, including cars driving on the highway, and observes the silence to show their respect and remember the fallen. The following day, a siren sounds for two minutes, at 11.00am and again the country stops to remember. The silence is eerie and at the same time a comforting reminder of the power of peoplehood and community.
At 9:54 am last Saturday, the first calls to Pittsburgh 911 came in. A spiritual community, peacefully praying, decimated by the gunshots of a hateful extremist. Eleven lives ended in the deadliest assault on the Jewish community in US history. All across America, a loss of innocence and security.
On this Shabbat, Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, Director of Jewish Community and the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan reminds us: There is no speech. There are no words. Ps. 19:3 “We are all responsible for each other. Until we reckon with our compounding moral failure that allowed the rise of hatred and antisemitism, America will never be made whole. We believe that as a nation of diverse people and many faiths, we can honor those lives destroyed by stopping our own lives for a full minute.”
#AmericaStops, an initiative of New York’s 92nd Street Y, invites people to stand together in solidarity for one minute of silence. On Saturday, November 3rd at 9:54 am precisely, we will honor, mourn, and reflect on those we have lost. And when the silence is over, we will step forward with the affirmation that we are all responsible for each other.
I will be teaching Shabbat Morning Yoga at that time tomorrow. I invite my students to stand together to observe this minute with me. I hope you will join in this moment of remembrance recalling our fallen brothers and sisters on this Shabbat. May their memories be a blessing.