On the occasion of Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day), Jerusalem hosted one of the largest memorial commemorations designed for Diaspora Jews visiting the city.
Over 1,000 people from fifty nations are in Israel this week as part of World Mizrachi’s World Orthodox Israel Congress and came together to salute the sacrifices of the thousands of soldiers and civilians who have lost their lives in the wars and terror attacks that have plagued the Jewish nation since the rise of modern Zionism.
The event, an initiative of Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora division within the World Zionist Organization, was held at the International Convention Center at Binyanei Hauma, welcomed numerous families who had lost loved ones and who shared their personal experiences with the attendees. The emotional ceremony was opened by Rabbi Leo Dee, whose wife Lucy and two daughters Maia and Rina were murdered in a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley over Passover.
Rabbi Dee shared his perspectives on loss amidst a tragedy which remains tragically fresh. “Just a few weeks ago I lost my wife Lucy and daughters Maia and Rina, and each one of them represents a name onto themselves. The meaning of Lucy’s name is light, and we live in a world of darkness that needs so much light. It was Lucy who chose that we should move to Israel, to a better place.”
Addressing his daughters, he added, “Maia’s name refers to water that flows towards the Torah, and the role of Torah is to bring people together and Maia also strove to be the best teacher for the children she taught and every Friday she would call her parents and grandparents and now I so miss those calls. Rina was named based on the phrase in Tehilim that says that to create a better future we need to work towards that goal, just like she worked on behalf of others and to make new things possible.” In his concluding message, he asked the audience to embrace those qualities and that they should know no more sorrow.
The ceremony was made possible through the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora and the One Family Fund and was attended by Yakov Hagoel, Chair of the WZO, Roi Abecassis, Director of the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora, Gael Gruenwald, Head of the Department of Education of the World Zionist Organization, Mark Belzberg, Chair of the One Family Fund, Racheli Fraenkel, Eileen Choter, Renana Meir, Devorah Kaye, Chana Goodman and the singer Yonatan Razel.
Roi Abecassis said, “The Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora took on this challenge of sharing the experience of ensuring that our friends and colleagues from across the Diaspora would be able to appreciate the power of Yom Hazikaron while they are here in Israel.”
“The hundreds of people who joined from 50 countries around the world felt first-hand the enormity of the pain that the Jewish people pay for the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Doron Perez, Executive Chair of World Mizrachi. “We hope and pray that as Yom Hazikaron moves into Yom Haatzmaut, this pain is alleviated and we only have opportunities to celebrate.”