300 Observe Yom Hazikaron In Person, Virtually
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COURTNEY BYRNES | STAFF REPORTER
Over 200 people attended the in-person commemoration of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, May 3 at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, while an additional 100 logged onto the livestream. This is the first time in three years the event has been held in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In two days, we will gather to celebrate the 74th anniversary of the independence of the state of Israel, but tonight, we are here to commemorate the heroes who sacrificed their lives in defense of Israel and to remember those who died as innocent victims of terror,” said Michael Milgrom, co-chair with Yael Herooty, in his opening remarks.
The commemoration opened with the “Star-Spangled Banner” led by Cantor Aaron Shifman of B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike and songs by Israeli Shlichim Avigail Botnick and Shir Zukerman, and the community shliach Itay Margalit on guitar. The siren of commemoration was sounded for one minute in memory of the victims of terror.
The Yizkor prayer was recited in Hebrew by Arie Teomi and in English by Rabbi Jonathan Cohen of TTTI, who was also the featured speaker of the evening, and Shifman led the El Malei Rachamim. Itay Adanya, another shaliach, and Noah Tanenbaum read a piece in English and Hebrew, and Ianina Dano sang HaTikvah, Israel’s national anthem.
A memorial candle was lit for the fallen by Scott Simon, chair of the Federation’s overseas connections committee, followed by the laying of wreaths by community members.
The victims of war wreath was placed by Beverly and Dennis Seaman. The prisoners of war and missing in action wreath was placed by Ari Rudin-Luria. A third wreath in honor of those whose place of burial is unknown was placed by Andrea Litvin, accompanied by her children Zeiv, 7, and Zohar, 12, Wolach. The final wreath was in honor of victims of acts of terror placed by Sydney Ungar and Ben Milgrom.
A portion of the commemoration included another song by Botnick, Zukerman and Margalit that was dedicated to the most recent victims of terror.
“In the beginning of March, Israel experienced a wave of terror attacks that left many vigilant and 15 people dead, including one just this past weekend,” Milgrom said as he introduced the singers to honor the memories of those victims.
Cohen, who was drafted to the Israel Defense Forces in 1987, six months before the first intifada, shared the story of a friend, Yaron Pick, who was killed during a training accident when a boat capsized. His friend had signed up for an officers course to serve for a longer time, while Cohen was admitted to law school and did not serve longer.
“The memory of this young man, the memory of this extraordinary talent, the memory of this goodness, and the memory of the potential, is just the tip of the iceberg of those 24,000 people who we have lost,” Cohen said. “May his memory be a blessing.”
Beit Avi Chai, the cultural and social center in Jerusalem, created an animated video project for Yom Hazikaron showing the memories of fallen soldiers. The video “Birthday” of two brothers born on the same day 11 years apart was played during the commemoration.
“20,284 soldiers, security forces and civilians have died defending the security of our homeland and simply living their lives in Israel as Jews and non-Jews ... With their death, they gave us life,” Yael Herooty said in the closing remarks.