The prayer at military memorial ceremonies for Israel's fallen soldiers - Yizkor (Remember) - will open with the traditional "May God remember his sons and daughters," Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ruled this week.
The statement followed an ongoing argument between religious and secular groups on whether the prayer at these memorials should open with "May God remember" or "May the people of Israel remember."
Amikam Gurevich, who hosted the eve of Independence Day torch-lighting ceremonies on Mount Herzl for many years, always opened with "May the people of Israel remember." Subsequent announcers have taken up the "May God remember" version. A similar process has occurred in many Memorial Day services, often at the bequest of military rabbis and religious bereaved families.
Former television journalist Menashe Raz was angry to hear the altered version a couple of years ago and complained to senior IDF officers. They promised him that the chief military rabbi would restore the "May the people of Israel remember" version. Despite the promises, last year Raz heard the "May God remember" version in services again.
Before the Memorial Day service at Palmachim this year, Raz contacted the base commander and persuaded him to instruct the announcer to open with "May the people of Israel remember." Later it was learned that the base rabbi and religious bereaved parents protested against the change.
Raz asked Gantz to restore the "May the people of Israel remember" version. "What unites us all, secular and religious, is the duty to remember the fallen soldiers in Israel's wars," he wrote. "To me personally and to many like me, God is not the one called on to remember. It is incumbent to see to it that even the chief military rabbi, who talks so much about unity, makes sure in the coming years to say "May the people of Israel remember."
The chief of staff's office this week sent Raz a reply, stating that the prayer version the IDF is bound by is "May God remember," hence this is the version read out in ceremonies.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now