Israeli Defense officials plan to recommend that the Yizkor text that was the subject of a dispute last year be officially included in Memorial Day services at military cemeteries.
The dispute centered around whether the words “Yizkor Elokim” (“May God remember” ) or “Yizkor Am Yisrael” (“May the nation of Israel remember” ) should be used. In the end, the second version won out.
The decision to officially recommend the text was made after the text – either version – was omitted from many Memorial Day ceremonies this year, apparently due to confusion after last year’s debate.
Though the Yizkor text for fallen soldiers is modeled after the traditional Yizkor memorial prayer, it is not a prayer, but a text penned by Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson in the 1920s. It was never a required element in military memorial services, though it was read at many services.
Last year a debate erupted over a version recited in military cemeteries, which began with “Yizkor Elokim,” although Katznelson’s original version began with “Yizkor Am Yisrael.” The change, made after the Six-Day War by IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, raised no complaints until last year, when a secular bereaved mother raised the issue and the media picked up on it.
A committee appointed by Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ruled in August that the original version beginning with “Yizkor Am Yisrael” be used.
But instead the text was dropped from many of this year’s memorial services, to the consternation of many bereaved families, who filed complaints with the IDF.
The recommendation to officially include the text will be presented to the Public Council for Soldiers’ Commemoration, which helps set Memorial Day traditions. It will then be submitted for the approval of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.