Taste of Memories – Yom Hazikaron
Looking for an impactful way to commemorate Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror? Taste of Memories provides a poignant experience. In this program, participants learn about the life of one fallen soldier and experience some of their favorite family recipes.
- It can be challenging to fathom the enormity of the loss of life that is memorialized on Yom Hazikaron.
- By focusing on the story of one fallen soldier or victim of terror, participants can connect in a relatable way with an Israeli who died in defense of their country.
- Every fallen soldier or victim of terror was a complex and multi-faceted human being. A tangible and approachable way to connect with them is through the foods they loved. Cooking, tasting, or even just talking about recipes can help participants identify with one of the fallen.
NOTE TO FACILITATORS
Talking about death is never easy, and sharing stories of fallen Israeli soldiers can be an emotional experience. Take the time to prepare yourself for this program, and remember that it’s absolutely fine to show emotion.
BACKGROUND AND QUESTIONS FOR EXPLORATION
Yom Hazikaron (יום הזיכרון), Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror is observed in the 24 hours prior to Yom Ha’atzmaut (יום העצמאות), Israel Independence Day.
The juxtaposition of a memorial day and a day of celebration can be jarring, and indeed it is intentionally so: Israel’s founders wanted to reinforce the understanding that without the sacrifice of the fallen, there would be no independence to celebrate.
While Yom Ha’atzmaut can be simpler to understand and embrace, Yom Hazikaron is harder to appreciate, especially from a distance.
Taste of Memories, Matkon Im Zikaron in Hebrew, was conceived by Eden Kohali when she was a Jewish Agency shlicha in Minnesota. She sought to help her community appreciate the significance of one of the most somber and powerful days on the modern Israeli calendar. Eden found that using a combination of food and stories shared by the families of those lost was an especially powerful method to create this connection.
For a bit more information about Taste of Memories, check out this brief explainer.
We are proud to partner with Eden and Taste of Memories to share this program, adapted from their Hebrew programs, with additional ideas to enrich.
- What do you think of when you remember a loved one?
- Is there a food you associate with a certain person or moment in your life?
- What do you think about marking Yom Hazikaron one day before the celebrations of Yom Ha’atzmaut?
AN IMPORTANT NOTE
We’re proud to share this program adapted from Taste of Memories along with additional enrichment ideas.
Taste of Memories is only possible through the involvement of bereaved families in Israel. As difficult as it can be, they participate because it’s important to them to see their loved ones’ legacy live on. Knowing that their story will be shared far and wide brings great comfort.
When you facilitate this program, it is imperative that you include time to take a photo and write a note to be shared with the bereaved family. Directions are included in Part 3 of the writeup.
This resource is divided into three sections:
Part 1: Introduction: Understanding Yom Hazikaron
Part 2: Taste of Memories
Part 3: Wrap Up and Thanking the Family
Introduction: Understanding Yom Hazikaron
The days immediately following Passover on the Jewish calendar are marked by three distinct modern holidays: Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Ha’atzmaut. For many, commemoration of Yom Hashoah and celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut can seem relatively accessible, for a number of reasons. Yom Hazikaron, with its somber theme and the stark reality of people who die for their country, can prove more challenging. Sharing numbers of fallen solders and victims of terror may not provide entry points for connection and meaning making. That’s where Taste of Memories comes in.
Introduce Yom Hazikaron and acknowledge the enormity of loss, and how difficult it can be to relate to the idea of fallen soldiers. Play a somber song associated with Yom Hazikaron to help set the tone.
Explain that we are going to take a different approach to relating to Yom Hazikaron. We’re going to talk about one soldier and learn about them. And we’re going to do it in a really unique way: by focusing on the foods they most enjoyed.
This may not be as strange as it sounds. Pose a few questions:
- Do you have a favorite food?
- Is there a dish that reminds you of someone special? Maybe your grandparents, or a favorite relative?
- Do any of you ever cook together with a family member?
- Do you have stories that describe your cooking—and eating—adventures?
Taste of Memories
Intro and Story
Introduce the fallen soldier or victim of terror whose story you plan to share. Their stories and recipes are on the Taste of Memories website.
Begin with the opening slide in the presentation, and ask for volunteers to read a slide or two as the person’s story begins to unfold. Read up until the subject of the story is in the army, and before they are wounded or killed.
At this point, share the person’s favorite recipe. Reflect back to some of the food-related memories participants shared earlier, and then share the food associated with the soldier whose story you’ve been exploring.
If you are cooking together, in person or virtually, adjourn to the kitchen or cooking space. Consider playing a Yom Hazikaron playlist in the background while preparing the recipe.
Story, Discussion, and Eating
When the dish is in the oven or on the stove, return to the slide presentation. You might want to warn the group that the story is about to become difficult. Take turns reading the final parts of the story to the end of the presentation.
Food for Thought:
- What did you learn about the fallen soldier or victim of terror?
- What do you think of the ways the family and/or friends have chosen to memorialize their loved one?
- If you have experienced loss, how do you try to keep the memory of your loved one alive and relevant?
- Is there a food that your family associates with a loved one who has passed away?
Once the food is ready, gather the group and enjoy together.
Take a group photo, ideally with the food that was prepared in memory of the fallen soldier or victim of terror. You will be sharing it with the family in the next step.
Wrap Up and Thanking the Family
Pose a question to encourage reflection:
- What is something you have learned about Yom Hazikaron? How is this similar or different to Memorial Day in the US or Canada?
- What is something that you will remember about the story and life of the fallen soldier or victim of terror?
- Can you imagine how it feels to be so committed to something that you would be willing to fight to defend it?
- If you could talk to someone only one more time, what would you want to know?
Thanking the Family
The Taste of Memories program was developed by Eden Kohali, an Israeli woman who served as a shlicha to the Minnesota Jewish community a few years ago. She created the program to help members of the community relate to Yom Hazikaron, and she quickly found that many families of fallen soldiers were eager to share the story of their loved one, even though it could be painful for them. They said they were comforted knowing that people around the world continued to think about their child, sibling, partner, or friend.
So now we come to a really important part of this program: It’s time for us to give back.
Ask participants: If you were going to write a note to the family of the fallen soldier, what would you say?
Encourage participants to share things they would tell the family. Remind them that the families chose to share the story of their loved one—hearing from participants from Taste of Memories is very meaningful to them.
Distribute paper and pens, and ask everyone to actually write a short note to the family—one to two sentences is fine. Encourage them to share something that was personally meaningful in the program, and to sign their first name along with the name of their school or city.
Share the group picture as well as images of the note/s with the family. You can do this by posting the images on social media and tagging Taste of Memories on their Instagram (@matkonzikaron) or their Facebook, or send them to Taste of Memories in an email.