“We are gathered here with heavy hearts to remember the fallen, those who gave their lives so that the State of Israel could exist,” said Israel Defense Forces (IDF) veteran Jonathan Ben-Choreen Freedman, master of ceremonies at the Yom Hazikaron ceremony, April 30, at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC).
Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s day of remembrance for its fallen soldiers and for those who have died in terror attacks.
“A nation that remembers its fallen is a strong nation,” said Freedman.
The sentiment of remembrance would be felt throughout the evening, beginning with the lowering of the Israeli flag to half-mast followed by the sounding of the siren and a moment of silence.
Orit and Daniel Tor, the community ambassadors in Ottawa for Canadian Friends of Hebrew University lit memorial candles and spoke about people they knew who had given their lives in defence of Israel. Gady Sirota, a sergeant in the IDF reserves, and Freedman also lit memorial candles.
“Unfortunately, our soldiers and civilians are still at risk and sadness and tragedy are still upon us,” said Freedman.
A video, highlighting the work of One Family Fund, an organization that provides financial, medical, emotional and psychological support to those who have lost family as a result of war or terrorism in Israel, was shown. Since 2001, One Family Fund has helped more than 12,000 people, with the number only growing as time goes on.
Israeli Ambassador Nimrod Barkan spoke about both his and his father’s service in the IDF and read a poem by Nathan Alterman on the founding of the State of Israel.
Jewish Federation of Ottawa Chair Linda Kerzner recalled following the events of the Six-Day War as a young girl in Ottawa and of the mixed feelings of exuberance and mourning that her parents and the community felt as Israel won the war while losing so many in battle.
The IDF Order of the Day was read by Adam Dodek and the SJCC Zemer Ottawa Chorus sang “HaMilchama Ha’acharona” and “Be’arvot HaNegev.”
Ottawa Jewish Community School Grade 8 students sang a Hebrew song with an interpretive dance and Rabbi Eytan Kenter of Kehillat Beth Israel read the Yizkor Prayer, the Prayer for the Well-Being of the IDF, and recited the Mourner’s Kaddish.
The ceremony concluded with Chazzan Evan Green singing “Kel Maleh Rachamim” followed by “Hatikvah” and “O Canada.”