Yizkor (Hebrew: יזכור), which means remembrance, is a special Jewish memorial prayer.
The Yizkor prayer has become a formal part of the prayer service during the Crusades of the eleventh century when many Jews were killed as they made their way to the Land Of Israel.
There is the earliest mention of Yizkor, which can be found in the 11 century Machzor Vitry. Some scholars believe that Yizkor actually predates the eleventh century and was created during the Maccabean period (around 165 B.C.E) when Judah Maccabee and his fellow soldiers prayed for their fallen comrades.
The prayer is recited four times a year during the following Jewish holidays: Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot.
On Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) Israel honors its fallen soldiers as well and its civilian terror victims. This is a special Yizkor Prayer memorializing Israel’s Fallen Heroes:
“יִזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת נִשְמוֹת בָּנָיו-גִּבּוֹרָיו, חַיָּלֵי צְבָא הֲגַנָּה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנָּפְלוּ בְּמִלְחֲמוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, בִּפְעֻלּוֹת הֲגַנָּה, תַּגְמוּל וּבִטָּחוֹן וּבְעֵת מִלּוּי תַּפְקִידָם, וְנִשְׁמוֹת כָּל לוֹחֲמֵי הַמַּחְתֶּרֶת וַחֲטִיבוֹת הַלּוֹחֲמִים בְּמַעַרְכוֹת הָעָם, שֶׁחֵרְפוּ נַפְשָׁם לָמוּת עַל קְדֻשַּׁת הַשֵּׁם, וּבְעֶזְרַת אֱלֹהֵי מַעַרְכוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵבִיאוּ לִתְקוּמַת הָאֻמָּה וְהַמְּדִינָה וְלִגְאֻלַּת הָאָרֶץ וְעִיר הָאֱלֹהִים. מִנְּשָׁרִים קַלּוּ וּמֵאֲרָיוֹת גָּבֵרוּ, בְּהֵחָלְצָם לְעֶזְרַת הָעָם וְהִרְווּ בְּדָמָם הַטָּהוֹר אֶת רִגְבֵי אַדְמַת קָדְשֵׁנוּ. זֵכֶר עֲקֵדָתָם וּמַעֲשֵׂה גְבוּרָתָם לֹא יָסוּפוּ מֵאִתָּנוּ לְעוֹלָמִים. תִּהְיֶינָה נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶם צְרוּרוֹת בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים עִם נִשְׁמוֹת אַבְרָהָם, יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב וְעִם שְׁאָר גִּבּוֹרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּקְדוֹשָׁיו שֶׁבְּגַן עֵדֶן עַד
” May God remember the souls of His heroic children: The fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who fell in the wars of Israel, in defensive, retaliative, and security actions and during the fulfillment of their duty, including the souls of the underground fighters and brigades who fought in the national struggle – all those who sacrificed their lives for the sanctification of God’s Name.
And with the help of God, the Lord of Israel’s campaigns, they brought about the revival of the nation and the state and the redemption of the land and the city of God.
They were quicker than eagles and stronger than lions as they volunteered to assist the nation, and they saturated our holy land with their pure blood.
The memory of their self-sacrifice and heroic deeds will never disappear from us. May their souls be bound in the Bond of Life with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and with the souls of the other heroes and martyrs of Israel who are in the Garden of Eden. Amen.”