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On Yom HaZikaron, Thousands Participate in Yearly Youth Movement Tradition of Distributing Flowers to Bereaved Families 

In cemeteries from Eilat to the northern town of Rosh Pina, teenage members of the HaNoar HaOved youth movement (NOAL) took part in the 44th annual “Zer L’Nofel” event, which translates to “Flowers for the Fallen.”  


On the morning of Monday May 13, the official Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Acts of Terrorism, over 5,000 young people gathered outside military cemeteries in over 150 different sites across the country, including cities, kibbutzim and Druze and Bedouin villages. They handed out bouquets of flowers to bereaved families arriving to pay their respects at the official ceremonies commemorating the dead, starting at 11 am with a nationwide siren.  


Over half a year has passed since the October 7th massacre which claimed the lives of thousands of Israeli civilians and soldiers, leaving society reeling from shock and grief. Many counselors and youth participants of NOAL have lost family members and friends, not to mention the tens of youth movement participants and graduates who were killed in the Gaza Envelope or fell in battle. However, despite the added weight of Yom HaZikaron in Israel’s current bleak reality, NOAL members found it more important than ever to provide comfort for the grieving families in their most difficult hour.  

 

Roi Tiberman, a youth leader in NOAl, explained that this year’s Yom HaZikaron takes on an extra meaning after the death of Sgt. Tal Shavit z”l in Kerem Shalom last week, a former participant in the youth movement. “Tal was a special personality who grew up on the values of Zionism and love of the land. This year, we also honor the memory of dozens of youth movement graduates who lost their lives in defense of the homeland." 

 



“The knowledge that the bereaved parents and families look forward to seeing us and receiving their bouquet of flowers is the most important thing to us,” added Ariel Katz, NOAL’s head coordinator for the project. “We see the operation as having great educational value for the youth: getting to know the stories of the fallen, among them thousands who are graduates of the youth movement, as well as standing with the families and strengthening our connection and love for our society and country." 

The “Flowers for the Fallen” project was founded in 1980 by Shimon Aharoni, a flower farmer and founder of the moshav Kfar Rut. He realized that flower companies were selling bereaved families bouquets at exorbitant prices and began to offer his own flowers for free. NOAL joined him to expand the operation in 1981. 

 

Today the operation is still run by Aharoni, now 80 years old, in partnership with NOAL and the Defense Ministry’s Department of Families and Commemoration. Over 1,000,000 flowers, combined into 135,000 bouquets, were distributed. 

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