May 16, 2024
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Riverdale Community Marks Yom HaZikaron

Congressman Ritchie Torres, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, Bronx Borough President Vanessa L Gibson, NY City Councilman Eric Dinowitz, SAR Academy Principal Binyamin Krauss and NOVA Festival Survivor Ron Segev at Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership Yom HaZikaron Ceremony.

On May 12, the Riverdale community gathered for their annual community-wide Yom HaZikaron Ceremony/Tekes. The event, held at SAR High School and sponsored by the Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership, included local rabbis and public officials reading from Tehillim, Yizkor, Kel Maleh Rachamim, Kaddish, prayers for the soldiers and hostages, and the lighting of candles in memory of fallen soldiers. Participants included: Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson; Representative Ritchie Torres; NYS Assembly Member Jeffery Dinowitz; NYC Council Member Eric Dinowitz; Rabbis Asher Abramovitz, Steven Exler, Shmuel Hain, Barry Dov Katz, Jonathan Kroll, Binyamin Lehrfield, Dovid Zirkind, Linda Shriner-Cahn, Katie Greenber, and Dina Najman; Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe, along with Elitsur Gadasi, Avigdor Gargy, Keren and Eran Ginzberg, Barry Rosekind, Azi Schwartz, Ron Segev and students from Kinneret Day School and SAR Academy.

Rabbi Binyamin Krauss opens the Riverdale Community Yom HaZikaron Ceremony at SAR High School, as students look on.

SAR Principal Binyamin Krauss began, “Tonight we gather on Yom Hazikaron, the Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers, as we have each year, to remember the sacrifices over these 76 years. But this year feels different. Different in the sheer number of casualties that were added this year. No home has been spared. We all know soldiers who are serving, those whose lives have been lost, victims of the atrocities of October 7. Different, because as we pause to mourn, there is no respite. In fact, as ceremonies were going on today, in Israel, rockets were fired from the North.”

Krauss quoted President Herzog, speaking at the Kotel, referencing “UNetaneh Tokef,” recited each Yom Kippur. “Just 12 days later, over 1000 souls were taken. The circumstances of those deaths were expanded beyond what was even contemplated in that painful tefillah.” Krauss continued, “Herzog reminded our nation and the world that we did not choose this war and that the State of Israel wants to live in peace and security with its neighbors. Those that fought courageously defended those values, and their peers will continue to do so.”

SAR students memorializing Yosef Guedalia HY”D, cousin of SAR students and alumni, shown with his wife whom he met while working at Camp Moshava.

An SAR student shared, “The State of Israel, in its 76th year, has unfortunately experienced many losses. Tonight, we are united through the memories of our heroes, who sacrificed their lives for the State of Israel, and through their deaths, gave us the legacy of life.” The students continued, “We are always keenly aware that the amazing gift of Medinat Yisrael has come at the price of fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. But this year is different. The weight of the loss is heavier. The State of Israel is currently at war. Since October 7, we have lost 711 more precious chayalim. We are mourning nearly 820 new civilian victims of terror. There are still 133 hostages waiting for redemption. 135,000 Israelis are still displaced from their homes.”

The theme was “Our Close Ones, Our Sorrows.” The tekes memorialized recently fallen soldiers who were friends and relatives of the community, Yosef Guedalia, Ben Zussman, Netzer Simhi, and Sahar Saudyan, and acknowledged victims of terror on kibbutzim, the Nova Festival and the hostages.

Under a banner showing the beautiful Kibbutz Sa’ad, SAR students welcome former SAR staff members and current Kibbutz Sa’ad residents Keren and Eran Ginzberg who described October 7 events in their community.

Keren and Eran Ginzberg lived in Riverdale from 2009-2022, before moving back to Kibbutz Saad. The Ginzbergs spent 36 hours in a safe room, not knowing when or if they would be rescued. “Our kibbutz was not directly invaded. The kibbutz next door, Kfar Aza, lost 65 members that day. Over 20 were taken hostage. Five remain in Gaza to this day.”

Ron Segev, a survivor of the Nova Festival stated, “I am haunted by memories of that fateful day. Chaos and terror ensued as gunfire erupted. Chaos swept through the crowd, forever etched into my mind. Seeing friends and strangers alike fall victim to senseless violence was a nightmare I never thought I’d experience. While I managed to escape with my life, the scars, both physical and emotional, serve as a constant reminder of the horrors that unfolded that day. My heart goes out to the families of 370 souls who perished and 44 who endured the torment of being taken hostage.”

Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson reads Psalm 121 in English in memory of fallen Israeli soldiers and terror victims.

“Amidst the darkness, there remains a glimmer of hope. Despite the pain, our community of survivors has joined together to make a pledge we intend to keep. We will dance again,” Segev concluded.

Rabbi Scott Kalmikoff, Riverdale Y director of community engagement, remarked, “Tonight, we’re here to mourn together as a community, the united Jewish community in Riverdale. Our elected officials here tonight have stood by our community every day since October 7.

“People are scared to wear yarmulkes on the streets or a Magen David necklace on the subway,” Kalmikoff added, “We need to be proud of who we are, always. Our ancestors in Europe used to say, ‘‘It’s hard to be a Jew.’ We hoped the creation of the State of Israel was changing that. We know the world is challenging. We have to stay positive.”

Psalm 121 performed in Hebrew by Kinneret Day School students.
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