The solemn Yom Hazikaron ceremony, May 4 at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre, saw many attendees quietly dab away tears as they remembered those who have lost their lives defending Israel and those who have died as victims of terrorist attacks.
“This is a day when the past, present and future meet on a continuum,” said Israeli Ambassador Rafael Barak. “Tonight, our gratitude is profound. Each one of them, we remember.”
Four candles were lit as the personal stories of four community members who had lost their lives defending Israel were told to a room so full that additional chairs had to be brought in during the ceremony.
A Green Kippah, a short documentary, told the personal stories of loss of three American Jews, and was named for the green kippah one of them, Michael Levin, wore as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Levin died in combat during the Second Lebanon War.
Ottawan Tobin Kaiman, a former lone soldier and paratrooper who joined the IDF in 2011, commented on the close relationship between Canada and Israel.
“Canada stands behind Israel, not because it is obligated to, but because we share the same morals, values and ethics, which Canada and Israel hold to the highest regard,” he said. “These close ties made me proud to be a Canadian citizen serving in the IDF.”
Kaiman was not the only Ottawan to have served in the IDF. When mothers whose children have served in the IDF, past and present, were asked to stand and be recognized at least nine women stood among the crowd.
Cantor Jeremy Burko of Agudath Israel Congregation said, although he often sings about “the giving of one’s self and one’s own blood” in order to keep the Jewish people safe, it is impossible to understand that sense of loss experienced when a family member makes the ultimate sacrifice and does not return.
“I wish I had something to say to those mothers who have lost so much,” he said. “To witness it firsthand, to have relatives I know there on the ground, who were pulling people from houses [and hearing] how they felt about it, everything is very, very near and dear, even though it’s on the other side of the world,” he said.
“Just being here and acknowledging and seeing does something.”