“We gather here on this difficult day to remember those who have fallen in defence of the state of Israel,” said Jonathan Ben-Choreen Freedman, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) veteran and master of ceremonies for a Yom Hazikaron ceremony held May 7 at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC).
Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s day of remembrance for its fallen soldiers and those who have died in terror attacks.
“A nation that remembers its fallen is a strong nation,” Freedman said.
The program began with the Israeli flag being lowered to half-mast by Shinshinim Inbar Haimovich and Liam Afota, followed by the sounding of the siren and a moment of silence.
Israeli Ambassador Nimrod Barkan lit a memorial candle during the ceremony and recited the poem, “Let the Memorial Hill Remember,” written by the late Yehuda Amichai, considered one of Israel’s greatest poets.
Barkan said Israel was “not handed on a silver platter. It was given life by those who made the ultimate sacrifice, either as soldiers or civilians.”
Jewish Federation of Ottawa President and CEO Andrea Freedman also lit a memorial candle and said Yom Hazikaron is a time to reflect on “the lives lost and the tremendous pain that never leaves their loved ones.”
A memorial candle was also lit by Sergeant Gady Sirota of the IDF in memory of his friend, Sergeant-Major Roee Yaish, one of 12 IDF reservists killed in a Katyusha rocket attack on August 6, 2006.
A video, “The Last Conversation,” created in memory of IDF solider Daniel Pomerantz, who was killed when the IDF entered the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, was shown, and the IDF Order of the Day was delivered by Major Shlomi Barshan, Israel’s deputy defence attaché to Canada.
Also participating in the Yom Hazikaron commemoration were the SJCC Ottawa Jewish Chorus and Ottawa Jewish Community School students who presented a poem. Rabbi Menachem Blum read the “Yizkor Prayer” and the “Prayer for the Well-Being of the IDF,” while Cantor Jason Green led “Kel Maleh Rachamim,” “Kaddish,” “O Canada” and “Hatikvah.”