Sixty-three years have passed since the War of Independence. Many of the thousands of soldiers who died in the war were Holocaust survivors who arrived on Israel's shores from European DP (displaced persons) camps; many had been left with no surviving relatives.
When the young soldiers, last of their families, died in battle, there were none left behind to visit their graves or pray for them.
This Remembrance Day, activists with the Yisrael Sheli (My Israel) movement are planning to change that. Each activist, or group of activists, picked the name of one of the “final remnant” fallen soldiers from a list provided by the Defense Ministry and will visit that person's grave on Sunday night and Monday.
“There are many who left nothing behind but an orphaned tombstone, fallen soldiers who survived the furnace, who were rescued from the Nazis' grip and arrived in the young state of Israel, and fell in a hero's death to defend it,” said organizer Ayelet Shaked. “As they came to Israel, alone, they died alone, and we see ourselves as being doubly obligated to remember them... It is the least we can do for these heroes of Israel.”
Those taking part in the mission, which Yisrael Sheli has defined as “one of our most important activities,” are planning to honor the fallen soldiers in multiple ways: with flowers and letters, by visiting their graves, and through reciting the traditional Kaddish prayer for the deceased.
In addition, those who have chosen a grave of a fallen soldier will put that soldier's picture, and some information about his or her life, on their own Facebook page and that of Yisrael Sheli. Social networking sites, and Facebook in particular, play a large role in Yisrael Sheli's activism.