April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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WDS students in grades fifth through eighth gathered together with faculty and parents for a Yom Hazikaron tekes to remember and honor fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terror attacks—those who sacrificed their lives for the independence and security of Medinat Yisrael. The tekes was led by the seventh grade, under the guidance of middle school Hebrew educator Morah Ronit Korenblit, and was filled with emotion and spiritual connection to our brothers and sisters in Israel. After rising for the tzefira, the memorial siren heard in Israel, Moreh Yochai Feldman lowered the Israeli flag, a symbol of respect for those who have died and a sign of national grieving. Moreh Adiel recited the Yizkor prayer and two students led a responsive recitation of Tehillim. Students lit remembrance candles to honor all the heroes and heroines of our generation, and read personal stories and letters written by soldiers to parents, including Daniel Pomerantz and Shon Mondstein. Tears flowed as all gathered listened to the song “A Million Stars,” written by Yiftach Kazar in memory of pilot Tom Farkash, killed in 2006 during the second Lebanese War, and “Good Night Shon” by Hanah Ben Ari—the famous Israeli singer who composed the letters Shon wrote on his phone moments before leaving for the Tzuk Eitan operation in Gaza. Rabbi Klinger concluded the program with a beautifully moving Prayer for the Israeli Defense Force, Kel Malei Rachamim and “Hatikvah.” Throughout the day, students in grades five through eight also had the opportunity to visit a dark room created by the shinshinim, bnot sherut, where they read the stories of various fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

Students in seventh grade shared that the tekes was so meaningful because they first spent time learning in class about the soldiers. As Elizabeth Lerner noted: “their jobs, their last message, their dreams and hopes—it touched me more because I don’t know anyone personally who died in Israel. Once I learned the personal stories, it felt more real, more connected.” Hadassah Margolin added, “Israel wasn’t given on a silver platter—the stories of the soldiers, the sacrifices they made—they are so proud to defend and protect Israel and we can’t take it for granted.” The students also demonstrated awe and respect for four of their teachers, who proudly served in the IDF.

Morah Ronit added, “this was more than just a memorial service. It was a learning experience. I make this an integral part of the Israel Studies unit which we study in middle school—the symbolism and importance behind the degel (flag), the knesset, the menorah and of course, being part of Tzahal—and the students really showcased in such a beautiful way, what they have learned.”

Joshua Cohen noted an important take-away message for him: “Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain—carry out their mission, remember their names, the cause they fought for. Do something for your country—show support—this can be in many ways. One day I hope to make aliyah, and to give of [myself] for [my] country.”

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