HADAR Cohen had always dreamt of joining the Israeli border patrol, raised by her family to be a courageous young woman, to care for her fellow man and to protect Jewish values.
In 2015, aged 18 and brimming with enthusiasm, Hadar enlisted in the IDF. Still in basic training, she was sent to Nablus Gate for her first active assignment where she was fatally shot by a terrorist while saving the life of her friend. Multiple weapons, including explosives, were found on the attackers who had planned a terrorist attack. She fell at nearly 19 years of age – a daughter, friend, sister and a hero.
This was just one of the stories of lost loved ones at the Yom Hazikaron ceremony held on Tuesday night at Robert Blackwood Hall where 1000 people and thousands more online came together to remember Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
Australian Jewry tonight paused to honour Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror on Yom Hazikaron.We remember. Photo: Peter Haskin
President of Zionism Victoria Yossi Goldfarb reflected on the 27,976 lives sacrificed for the defence and preservation of the Jewish State, and said tonight is a night “where we as the Jewish community, living halfway around the world from Israel, stand together not just in solidarity but in active memory of those we have lost”.
Goldfarb also paid tribute to the late communal stalwart Isi Leibler, who passed away on Tuesday.
Bat Hen Zeev, representing WIZO, who shared duties as masters of ceremonies in both English and Hebrew with ZDVO’s Anthony Gafin, reflected on her father’s lifelong service in the Israeli army, and spoke of the importance of volunteer work.
B’nai B’rith’s Jack Aghion and JNF’s Yafa Lefler spoke in commemoration of Haim Bar-Natan who was remembered by family as “a gentle, shy boy whose smile betrayed a wonderful innocence”, whose passions lay in sport and music and who “served with dedication and fervour”.
Haim died as the result of friendly fire while serving in a top IDF unit in 1992. He was only 19.
Daughter, Zahit and granddaughter, Liron, spoke in memory of David Vider, a medic who had been previously wounded in the Yom Kippur War, who was fatally wounded completing his medical officers course in the reserves in 1979. He was 34 and left behind wife, Edna, and two children.
The night was also marked by the traditional siren, candle lighting and prayers from community leaders, and musical performances from Jewish schools, community choirs and Amir Paiss, Yuval Ashkar, Shani Weiss and Anita Lester.
The last speaker of the night, Gafin, said on Yom Hazikaron, while “the rawness of pain is transmitted between us”, we look for an answer to our grief, but it is “not in despair nor hate, it is in peace, in harmony, in hope”.