Makeshift Memorial Corners Help Neighbors Mourn Together
Updated: Jan 7
In place of the usual ceremonies conducted in honor of fallen soldiers, hundreds of “Memory Corners” have been put up across the country. Leaders of the unique community initiative created hundreds of kits that were distributed to apartment buildings and neighborhoods in cities throughout Israel.
By Asaf Zvi, originaly published on "Davar" - Link at the bottom
Israeli Memorial Day – Hundreds of Israelis have taken it upon themselves to erect “memorial corners” for fallen soldiers at the entrances to apartment buildings and on community noticeboards throughout the country. These makeshift memorials include posters and remembrance pages and are assembled from DIY kits distributed for free by local activists. What started as a grassroots initiative by Dror Israel members in Rehovot in response to the nation-wide ban on holding memorial ceremonies in memory of the fallen and visiting cemeteries quickly spread to cities throughout Israel backed by local authorities and driven nationally by Dror Israel.
The leaders of “Isolated-not alone”, a local community project active in the neighborhoods of Rehovot, were behind the initial operation to distribute memorial kits. More than two hundred city residents came to the first distribution center, set up in a local center of Dror Israel’s youth movement. They took home memorial kits to assemble in apartment buildings and community bulletin boards, offering residents a chance to see who among their neighbors had lost love ones in defense of the State of Israel.
Noga Nevo, a member of Dror Israel and one of the project’s leaders, said that demand for the kits exceeded expectations and that people continued asking to receive them to take home to their neighbors long after the deadline.
“With eight minutes to go before the memorial siren I got a message from someone who was outside my building and wanted a kit, but couldn’t open the door. I managed to send him the code for the door, and then the siren marking a minute of silence in honor of the fallen started. When it was over, I sent him a message apologizing that I hadn’t reached him in time, but he came back about an hour later with a picture of the memorial he had set up. He wrote: ‘I served for many years as an officer in the IDF and participated in Israel’s wars, and lost friends and family. It was important to me to set up a memorial especially when we were banned from visiting the cemeteries and participating in ceremonies in their memory.’”
Amalia Ze’evi, one of the project’s coordinators, says that the memorial kits were a way of filling the void left in the absence of the usual ceremonies. “The experience of isolation and loneliness is difficult on any day, but on national memorial days it is unbearable. We are accustomed to commemorating the Memorial Day for fallen soldiers together – in national ceremonies, educational settings and cemeteries, in our cities and in our communities. It is a day when our mourning is shared, collective, and alive. Each of us aches for the bereaved families. The community gathering together and the sense of shared mourning are vital to the fabric of life in our country. Losing community and unity on this day was inconceivable to us.”