“I felt the grief, I felt the loss, I felt the love,” keynote speaker Jason Moscovitz told a sombre gathering, April 21, at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC) for Ottawa’s annual Yom Hazikaron memorial ceremony.
Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, takes place the day before Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
With the Israeli flag lowered to half-mast, Moscovitz, the CBC’s former chief political reporter and now an Ottawa Jewish Bulletin columnist, spoke of his family’s connection to Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier killed in Gaza last summer during Operation Protective Edge.
Goldin was Moscovitz’s daughter Emmanuelle’s brother-in-law and Moscovitz travelled to Israel to attend Goldin’s shiva.
“I was invited into the inner circle of the shiva. I experienced so much, I saw so much, I heard so much, and I felt so much,” he said.
“He was a very accomplished young man, 23 years old. He had many skills, many talents. He was an artist and he was in love,” said Moscovitz. His paintings are hung in the Goldin family home, and there is also a “sizable” portrait of Goldin, he added, telling the Goldin family’s story of love and loss.
Goldin was set to marry his fiancée, Edna Sarusi, on September 18, just six weeks after he was killed. Moscovitz said Sarusi described herself as “a widow who had never had the opportunity to become a bride.”
Moscovitz was the first of five community members to light four memorial candles in honour of those who lost their lives fighting for Israel, or as a result of terrorist attacks.
Former IDF sergeants Gady Sirota and Tobin Kaiman, as well as Barbara Greenberg and Amalia Winer lit the remaining three candles in honour of fallen family and friends.
The total lives lost stands at 23,320 since 1860, and 116 lives were lost just within the past year said Israeli Ambassador Rafael Barak.
“One hundred and sixteen new families in grief,” he said.
“The Jewish community of Ottawa is here to share and remember,” said event MC Jonathan Freedman, a former battalion commander and a lieutenant-colonel in the IDF reserves.
“Each year on Yom Hazikaron, we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifices paid by Israeli soldiers,” said Jewish Federation of Ottawa Chair Steven Kimmel.
Marion Silver was one of the mothers who stood up when Freedman asked the “unsung heroes,” – the mothers and wives of Israeli soldiers to stand and be recognized. She said the evening serves as a reminder for parents to support their children and “have faith that everything is going to be OK.” Raphael “Rafi” Brass, Silver’s son, served 14-months as a lone soldier starting in 2009.
“Every life matters in Israel,” she said. “No one is expendable.”
Two short videos were shown: one in memoriam to lone soldier Sean Carmeli and the other a tribute to all lives lost during Operation Protective Edge, after which Rabbi Idan Scher said a prayer for the well-being of IDF soldiers.
Colonel Adam Susman, defense attaché of Israel to Canada, delivered the Order of the Day, and Ottawa Jewish Community School students Sonia Frenkel and Ella Sabourin read the poem “Hareut (The Friendship)” in Hebrew and English.
The SJCC Shiru Lach Choir performed “Lo Teda Od Milhama” and “The Peace Song,” with many attendees joining in singing the latter.
The program ended with Cantor Jeremy Burko singing “Kel Maleh Rachamim” and reciting “Kaddish” and leading the singing of “O Canada” and “Hatikvah.”