With memorial candles flickering in the breeze, a total of over 100,000 viewers worldwide remembered those who died in service to Israel as well as victims of anti-Semitic terrorism April 27 at the Masa Israel Journey Yom HaZikaron Virtual Memorial Ceremony.

The event, broadcast on Masa Israel Journey’s Facebook page, took place at Yad La-Shiryon, Israel’s official memorial site for fallen soldiers. It was put on in partnership with Keren Haysod, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the State of Israel. JewishColumbus was one of the event partners.

Maya Johanna Menachem served as emcee, and the event included addresses by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin; Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel; David Koschitzky, chairman of the Keren Hayesod – UIA board of trustees; Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs; and Mark Wilf, chair of the JFNA board of trustees.

“This is the time when Jews in Israel and all over the world stand together as one nation in memory of the fallen,” said Menachem, inviting all of the virtual viewers to stand as a siren was sounded to remember the lives lost. “This year, we won’t be able to gather and remember for Yom Hazikaron, not here in Israel nor in communities, college campuses and synagogues around the world. We will still connect each in their home and make meaning out of this day.”

She said the ceremony was in honor of the 23,820 soldiers and 3,149 victims of terror lost to date.

Koschitzky read the Yizkor prayer following the lighting of the memorial torch.

Rivlin then spoke of how everyone should band together to remember the fallen.

“Together, we bow our head in memory of the fallen and embrace the grieving families, hoping to find solace as individuals and as a nation, as we remember our sons and daughters who fell during their military service and in acts of terror,” he said. “For many of you, this is the first time that you are making this Day of Remembrance here, together with us. Many of you have been in Israel a long time, and have certainly already discovered that here, joy is often tinged with sadness, and laughter and tears go hand in hand.”

Following his address, a video was shown of a group of six mothers who lost their children in action. Each mother shared memories of their child.

Memorializing victims of anti-Semitic attacks, Menachem recalled the synagogue shooting on April 27, 2019, in Poway, Calif., when a gunman entered Chabad of Poway and killed one and injured three, including the synagogue’s rabbi, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.

“Although this year on Yom Hazikaron we cannot be together physically, we stand together as one in our hearts and in our tears to remember our loved ones who fell in battle and anti-Semitic terror attacks in Israel and around the world,” Herzog said.

Hotovely said each person has a personal story they carry about Yom Hazikaron, especially those who leave their families to fight in the Israel Defense Forces.

“I want to dedicate my words to the lone soldiers. Tonight, we remember the heroism for all those who chose to leave their families and come here, out of a true feeling of partnership in the destiny of the Jewish people,” she said. “I bow my head in the face of their courage. I bow my head in front of the bereaved families who sent their beloved sons and daughters to fight for the only land Jewish people have, the state of Israel.”

Near the ending of the stream, Menachem welcomed Wilf to speak before IDF soldiers laid wreaths at the memorial on behalf of families. A video, “Words of Memories,” was then played where speakers shared memories of those lost.

After a performance of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” by singers Osnat Harel and Gilan Shahaf, the event ended with Stuart Steinberg, the father of the late staff sergeant Max Steinberg, reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish. All participants were then invited to join in “Hatikvah.”

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