Jerusalem, 4 May, 2022 (TPS) — Hundreds of thousands of Jews from 60 countries around the world took part on Tuesday night in the international ceremony for Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s official Remembrance Day for the fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims, which is organized every year by the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel.
The ceremony focused on the story of Lone Soldiers, Olim (new immigrants), civilians, and tourists, who came to Israel from all over the world and fell while serving in the IDF or were killed in terror attacks.
This is the largest ceremony in Israel held in the English language, which is adapted for Diaspora Jewry and the new immigrant communities in the country. The ceremony, which took place in English and was translated into Hebrew, French and Russian and was broadcast live to hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world, was attended by graduates of the Masa program and members of Jewish communities in Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, Morocco, Turkey, South Africa, the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, and other countries.
About 5,000 participants in the Masa and Birthright programs in Israel attended the ceremony, which took place at the Yad LaShiryon site in Latrun, in the presence of Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai, Acting Chairman of the Jewish Agency Yaakov Haguel, representatives of the IDF, bereaved families, and other senior officials.
This year’s stories were about Eli Kay, who immigrated to Israel from South Africa and was killed in a terrorist attack in the Old City in November 2021 on his way to work at the Western Wall; Jordan Bensimon of the elite Egoz Unit who immigrated from France and fell in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014; the late brothers Barak and Amichai Itakis, one an officer in the Navy, and the other is a pilot in the Air Force, who returned to Israel from Mexico City and fell in operational activity; and Dan Uzan from Denmark, who was killed in a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen in 2015.
The torch of remembrance was lit by a representative of the bereaved families, Sergeant Hanan Kay, the brother of the late Eli Kay, who serves as a combat soldier in the Nahal infantry brigade.
During the ceremony, videos were shown about those who fell in Israel’s war and hostilities, with an emphasis on Lone Soldiers and young people from Diaspora Jewry.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in a recorded message, said that “tonight we remember the courage, heroism, and sacrifice of the fallen. Each of them has a name and a story, which must be told. Together we carry their memory and send strength to the brave families whose lives were cut short.”
“Among the fallen were immigrants, who chose to leave their homes to protect the homes of others, to protect the State of Israel. Their memory is a reminder of how lucky we are to have the State of Israel, a home we should never take for granted. We remember them all and salute them,” he said.
Director-General of Masa, Ofer Gutman, noted that “this is the largest ceremony in Israel, which is a unique bridge between the State of Israel and the young people of Diaspora Jewry. Together we meet the story of our best sons and daughters who fell for our existence.”
“On the most Israeli day of the year, we give the participants of Masa in Israel the opportunity to be eternal partners in the chain of generations and in the Zionist enterprise, as they experience a powerful Memorial Day ceremony, and commemorate the day in the same way as Israelis,” he said.