Events to remember Israel’s soldiers and celebrate independence

With Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) beginning on the evening of April 30 and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) the next night, Jewish institutions in South Florida will both remember Israel’s fallen soldiers and celebrate the Jewish state’s birthday with community events on May 1.

At Congregation Kol Tikvah, 6750 North University Dr. in Parkland, Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror will be honored during its annual Yom Hazikaron service starting at 7:30 p.m. This memorial service commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and is scheduled to last approximately an hour at the synagogue’s sanctuary. Attendees are asked to wear a white shirt.

Ariela Benit, the organizer for this annual program at the synagogue, decided to do the ceremony in both English and Hebrew.

“Even though most of the people who are coming are Israeli, I know there are a group of Jewish Americans who don’t know much of what’s going on. They’re not connected to the tradition and the culture of the Israeli people. Although for Israelis, coming to the ceremony is a must and a part of their life, for the Americans it’s not, so by doing this ceremony in English and in Hebrew, I make sure the Americans get it as well.”

Benit says she has gotten responses from Americans who have been moved by this ceremony over the years.

“I know Jewish American have been coming every year for many years, so I guess I’ve managed to make some impact on them,” Benit said.



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The service includes blessings, candle lighting ceremony in memory of family members lost in different Israeli wars, reading of texts of soldiers that died in wars, musical performances, photos of faces of the fallen accompanied by songs and a short film on the Six Day War.

Following the service, the event transitions into a celebration of Israel’s 69th birthday with Israeli dancing, music, birthday cake, refreshments and celebration.

Israel Defense Forces at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July 4, 1976. Guest speakers include Entebbe Rescue Mission survivors Benny Davidson and Shay Gross. The ceremony includes a Daglanut (flag show), choir performances and more. The Memorial Day commemoration transitions into a celebration of Israel’s Independence with Israeli music, a fireworks display and Israeli food available for purchase.

Meirav Kravetz, the Hebrew Academy’s foreign language coordinator and event’s main organizer, said that it’s very important to have the transition of Israel’s Memorial Day to Independence Day at this community event.

“Thanks to the sacrifice of the soldiers that gave their lives, we’re remembering that we have the ability to celebrate and have our homeland, so we’re building on that.”

Kravetz also mentioned that the event is emphasizing the contributions of Hebrew Academy students who are serving in the army as their names will be highlighted.

Rabbi Zvi Kahn, head of school, said, “The fact that we have the memorial ceremony and program for the loss of Israeli soldiers in the wars since 1948 connects people in a very real way to what it means to live in Israel and to serve in the army.”

Kahn noted that to then have the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration at the event following the memorial commemoration shows that it’s vital to “celebrate the fact that Israel is a state, it’s thriving and is the homeland for the Jewish people.”

“Those two things together [Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut] are very important for our identity.”

The event is free and open to the community. Call 305-532-6421 for more information.

Contact your nearby Jewish institution for information on other local events commemorating both Israel’s Memorial Day and celebrating Israel’s Independence Day.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-jjbn-israel-0426-20170424-story.html

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