‘We embrace them in a virtual hug’

‘We embrace them in a virtual hug’

On Yom Hazikaron, 'we remember that our independence has exacted a heavy price and we bow our heads in gratitude to those who have paid the ultimate price'.

FAMILIES and friends of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism will remember their loved ones every day, but the significance of Yom Hazikaron is that it is the community’s opportunity to memorialise them, reflected Israeli ambassador Mark Sofer.

Paying tribute to over 23,000 fallen soldiers and more than 3000 terror victims, the envoy was part of an April 27 webcast of the Yom Hazikaron tekes (ceremony) from Zionism Victoria (ZV) on YouTube and Facebook, held instead of the traditional memorial gathering due to coronavirus restrictions.

“We remember that our independence has exacted a heavy price and we bow our heads in gratitude to those who have paid the ultimate price,” reflected Sofer during the 68-minute ZV-produced video.

Israeli ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer.

ZV president Sharene Hambur noted, “Tonight as we continue to socially distance ourselves from each other, we can still be connected by our love for Israel and come together to share this poignant day with her people.

“We can only imagine the additional pain [families] will suffer this year when they are not able to visit the graves of their loved ones or to come together to share stories and memories … We embrace them in a virtual hug as we send our love, our support, our strength and our prayers.”

After chanting El Malei Rachamim, Rav Yehoshua Asulin lit a candle in memory of two uncles in the IDF. He recounted that Asher Asulin was killed in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and Eli Asulin met the same fate in the Golan during the 1982 Lebanon War.

Gal Nirens lit a candle for his childhood friend Lieutenant Paz Eliyahu, 22, paying tribute to his schoolmate, known as “Buzi”, who became an IDF paratrooper and was killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.

Zionism Victoria president Sharene Hambur.

Miriam Bass read the reflections of Israeli mother Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons – Uriel, during combat in Lebanon in 1998, and Eliraz, in a gunfire exchange between Israel and Gaza in 2010.

Rabbi Daniel Rabin recited Yizkor, artists Ohad Rein, Anita Lester and Shani Weiss performed songs of remembrance, Hashomer Hatzair shlichah Sapir Atias gave the Prayer for IDF Soldiers and former ZV president Sam Tatarka offered the Prayer for Israel. The King David School Choir sang Advance Australia Fair and the Bialik College Choir performed Hatikvah.

In the words of one of numerous online viewers posting afterwards, the webcast was “a beautiful and moving remembrance”.

Rav Yehoshua Asulin lighting a candle in memory of his two uncles killed on IDF duty.

Meanwhile, Hatzofim Australia – the Melbourne and Sydney chapters of Israeli Scouts – held its own virtual Yom Hazikaron commemoration in Hebrew via Zoom and Facebook last Sunday night on the eve of the memorial day, with more than 80 families joining in. 

The organisation’s executive director Michael Manhaim said members of three Hatzofim families shared their story during the evening, about a father who was murdered in a terror attack in Israel, and two IDF soldiers who died in battle.

“We sang songs online together and the madrichim read letters and poems,” he said.

“It was very emotional to be able to keep our tradition and pay our respects, even during isolation – I couldn’t stop crying.”

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