On April 28, Israel Bonds joined Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) in commemorating Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, holding a ceremony that united over 500, in honor of the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the Jewish state in addition to those who perished as a result of terrorism. The worldwide event demonstrated the fact that although global participation in the physical sense could not be possible given the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, it would not prohibit the nation’s supporters, families and friends from coming together to pay tribute to the lives lost with immense respect and admiration.
The moving virtual memorial program began with host Sarit Gomez, IDF widow who spoke of her personal loss, while also paying a deeply emotional tribute to memorialize all victims who fought for the Jewish state’s existence, a total of 23,816 since 1948’s War of Independence, as well as the 3,153 civilians who were killed in acts of terror. The memorial also included honoring Israel’s fallen heroes with the sounding of the traditional Remembrance Day siren, echoing the nation’s alarm which brings all to stillness, as their inspiring dedication calls all people connected to the Jewish homeland to reflect on the bravery exhibited and to carry on the values these courageous individuals proudly lived by.
After the moment of silence, the Yizkor memorial prayer was recited by FIDF National Board Member Shmuel Katz, followed by the Kaddish prayer of mourning with Alon Carmeli, father of Staff Sgt. Sean Carmeli z”l.
IDF Chief Cantor, Lt. Col. Shai Abramson sang El Malei Rachamim
, the prayer for departed souls, which evoked heartfelt sorrow from all in attendance, especially family members and friends of the deceased, many of whom typically visit the memorials in person to pay respects and honor those who committed their lives to defend and uphold Israel’s freedom.
Participating speaker Israel Bonds President and CEO Israel Maimon expressed his condolences to all who lost loved ones and those injured serving Israel’s military as well as victims of terror, in which he shared a personal story of a former comrade he lost while serving in the same IDF reserve brigade. Tamir Massad fought in the First Lebanon War, and was a hero in the Beaufort castle battle, in which six of his unit members perished. In rushing to apprehend a suicide bomber one day in Ariel, he and two other unit members were sadly killed. In sorrow and gratitude, Maimon emphasized, “It is because of soldiers like Tamir Massad, and the thousands of men and women who exemplify the legacy of the Israel Defense Forces, that Israel Bonds has partnered, and will continue to partner, with the FIDF.” He added, “This has been one soldier’s story. We honor them all.”
Bereaved sister and former FIDF Legacy camper and counselor, Sgt. Eden spoke of the difficulties presented by the lockdown which prevented her and her family from uniting in person to memorialize her brother, Yonatan, yet she remained hopeful that she would be able to in the coming days and years ahead. Miriam Peretz, a bereaved mother who lost two sons during their army service equally communicated that although she had paid the ultimate price in the loss of life in her family, even the coronavirus could not derail her spirit, and she would honor her sons and those who sacrificed their lives for the Jewish state as long as she lives.
In concluding the ceremony, FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir expressed his comforts for the families of soldiers and victims of terror who perished in the name of Eretz Yisrael, stating, “The land of Israel is consecrated with the devotion and blood of the fallen; every mountain, hill, ravine and rock tells the story of their devotion and heroism.” He added, “May the memories of the fallen always be a blessing.” With heavy emotion, the IDF Ensemble sang Hatikvah to commemorate the lives lost forever.