Mourning and Celebrating During a Pandemic

A Week of Memorial and Celebration

Monday evening, Israel marked the start of Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism) and the country came together – virtually – to honor every life lost in defense of the Jewish state or targeted by terror. The IDF released these photos and this video of unique memorial ceremonies held throughout the country this year. Ofer Bavly, Director General of Chicago Jewish Federation’s Israel Office, shared his thoughts. While the main focus of the day is on mourning those who fell, our thoughts also turned to victims of the coronavirus. Our hearts go out to the UK Jewish community where the Jewish death rate is an incredible three to four times higher than the national average.


After the sadness of Yom HaZikaron, we turned to celebrate Israel’s 72nd birthday on Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. Tens of thousands of people joined our live Global Celebration on Facebook and YouTube. Working on this first-ever worldwide collaboration was truly inspiring – we couldn’t have done it without our incredible partners at the Jewish Agency, Keren Hayesod, the Israel American Council and more. Federation partnerships were highlighted in an uplifting song with Matisyahu and were busy throughout the day. If you couldn’t watch it live, view a recording of the star-studded event here


Israel’s indefatigable President Reuven Rivlin set out to visit every home in Israel…virtually! Using alternate reality technology this hologram of the President could be projected into any home, along with his special Yom HaAtzmaut message – go ahead and try it yourselves!


Jewish Communities Around the World…
Our overseas partners are working hard to help Jewish communities in need around the world during this crisis. JDC recently released this update on their COVID-19 emergency strategy; the Jewish Agency is continually updating their coronavirus response webpage; and this update from World ORT highlights how their network of students is faring during the pandemic.


…And In Israel
You can find the latest news and developments from Israel here – we update this document regularly so feel free to check back in every few days. We’ve also pulled together a group of excellent resources produced by Israel’s rich collection of think tanks for your communities: