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Riverdale Partnership Marks Israel’s Yom Hazikaron

On April 24, the Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership held a community-wide Yom Hazikaron Tekes at the Riverdale Y. Melissa Sigmond, chief executive officer of the Riverdale Y welcomed the community, and Tsuri Gadasi, of HIR’s Sephardic division, Congregation Beit Aharon, served as master of ceremonies.

Gadasi began: “On Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, we come together as one to pay our respects by remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve their country. Yom Hazikaron keeps alive the memories of those who fought so that we can experience the miracle of a 2,000-year-old hope come true.

“Standing here, in Riverdale, it’s heartwarming to see that this day has importance not only to Israelis, but also to Jews around the world. We’re gathered here together to remember lives that were cut short, their values, their courage, and the spirit that they lived by. … Today, throughout Israel, blue and white flags are lowered to half-mast and a wailing siren is heard. Time stands still and all is silent. Ceremonies all over the country are held in honor of Israel’s fallen heroes and their families. … This evening, we too, join Jewish communities across the world standing as one, together with the people of Israel, in remembrance of our heroes, Zichronam Livracha.”

A siren wailed and HIR’s Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe then recited Yizkor.

The Riverdale Minyan’s Rabbi Binyamin Lehrfield read the story of Shon Mondshein. On July 20, 2014, during Operation Tzuk Eitan in Gaza, Mondshein’s armored vehicle was hit by a missile, killing him and six Golani Brigade comrades. Mondshein was 19 ½ years old when he died. As is military custom, a week before entering Gaza, he wrote six letters intended for the people he loved, in the event that he wouldn’t return home from war. Hanan Ben-Ari composed a song based on these letters, “Layla Tov Shon.”

RJC’s Rabbi Dovid Zirkind and Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale’s Rabbi Katie Greenberg recited “K’El Ma’aleh Rachamim.”

Atara Fobar then read the story of the two Yuval Harels. In Summer 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. Two families named Harel lived in the same Jerusalem neighborhood. Both families had sons named Yuval. Though both Yuvals were the same age, they and their families didn’t know each other, and as a result they didn’t know that both were fighting with the IDF in Lebanon. One day, two military officers came to the door of one of the Harel families with the devastating news that their son had been killed in battle. However, a few hours later there was another knock on the door. It was the IDF again. They had made a mistake. Their son was still alive, and it was the other Yuval Harel who had been killed. The IDF representatives went to the other Harel home to inform them of their son’s death.

After just a day of grim relief, knowing that their son was still alive, the first Harel family was visited by the IDF once more. Their son, the first Yuval Harel, had also been killed in battle. The two Yuval Harels from the same Jerusalem neighborhood were killed in action two days apart. Today, two Yuval Harels are buried in the same row of graves on Mount Herzl.

A memorial candle was lit by Israeli Air Force veterans Barry Rosekind, Chovevei Torah student, and Avigdor Gargy. Then, Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman of the Kehilah of Riverdale recited the prayer for members of the Israel Defense Forces. There were also musical performances from Kinneret Day School and SAR Academy students.

Gadasi said: “During the past 75 years, since 1948, the State of Israel has struggled to coexist peacefully with its neighbors. As we honor the eternal memory of our fallen heroes, we continue to hope for the end of bloodshed and the establishment of lasting peace in the region. From those who lost their lives, we shall always draw inspiration to continue our efforts for peace. Their memory shall be for us an eternal guiding light.”

He then concluded: “With the hope and vision of the prophet Isaiah: ‘They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.’” The event ended with the audience singing “Hatikvah.”

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