Philadelphia Jewry Remembers Fallen Israeli Soldiers

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A few hundred people gathered at a Elkins Park synagogue to mark the commencement of Yom Hazikaron.

A piercing siren echoed around the auditorium walls of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park on Tuesday to mark the commencement of Yom Hazikaron, also known as Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism.

The few hundred people gathered at the Conservative synagogue stood at silent and rapt attention to remember over 23,000 people who have died defending Israel or as a victim of terrorist attacks.


Na’ama Yarden, a native Israeli who lives in Philadelphia and teaches at Perelman Jewish Day School, and Adam Oded, who DJs celebrations under the moniker Philly Custom DJ, emceed the event — sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The ceremony was conducted  in Hebrew and English. 

Referencing the fact that Day of Remembrance comes a day before Israeli Independence Day, they read, “This transition from grief to happiness, from remembrance to celebration is not easy but it serves as constant reminder of the reality in Israel where our existence as a nation is threatened with pain and sacrifice.”

Shoval Dorani, a Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy alum who recently returned to Philadelphia from her service as a lone soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, began the event by lowering the Israeli flag to half-mast. Afterwards, Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin of Beth Sholom Congregation read Yizkor, and Hazzan Howard Glantz of Congregation Adath Jeshurun sang “El Male Rachamim,” a memorial prayer.

There were also several Remembrance Day-themed song performances by, among others, students from Echad Ha'Am High School in Petach Tikva, Israel, currently visiting their peers at Barrack. They sang "Between the Sounds" by Yonatan Razel, and the Chavurat Hazemer Choir, which was conducted by Vallery Lomazov and accompanied by pianist Rita Lomazov. They performed "Song of Shabbat Eve," a poem written by the famous Yehudah Amichai, and converted into a song by Moshe Vilenski, a Polish-Israeli composer.

One moving part of the ceremony was a video, compiled by the local troop of Israeli Scouts and titled The Story of a Life, which profiled three Israelis with family ties to Philadelphia who lost their lives in terrorist attacks or in combat.

“This experience was a way for us to understand the importance of Yom Hazikaron as a day of remembrance and honoring the fallen, and understanding the strong connection between Israel and the Philadelphia region,” Noy Segal, one of the scouts, said by way of introducing the short film.

Yaron Sideman, consul general of Israel to the mid-Atlantic region, also noted the importance of remembering all those who have perished in defense of Israel, concluding that “we are eternally indebted to those good hearts who are heroes; we remember and honor them today.”

 


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