On 1 January 1873, Aharon Hershler was shot to death by an Arab gang which raided his house in Jerusalem.
Since then, 23 544 people have been killed in combat and in acts of terror. Yom Hazikaron is dedicated to honour their memory.
Unfortunately, the wars of Israel do not belong to history. They are an ongoing reality. Too often the people of Israel are called to defend their families, their friends and their country.
To emphasise the fact that Yom Hazikaron is a reflection of a continuous struggle, we chose to focus on the most recent operation — Operation Protective Edge (Tzuk Eitan). During this year’s Yom Hazikaron ceremony we shared with those attending the ceremony, stories, pictures and memories from the battle and told those present about some of the people that were called to defend Israel and never came back.
The Israeli Mishlachat is primarily comprised of young Israelis who come to South Africa for a year of volunteering. Many of those young Shlichim who now are in Cape Town were on active duty in 2014 when Operation Protective Edge broke out. Three of them decided to share their experiences and personal stories with the Cape Town Jewish Community. It was very moving when they spoke about people they knew who were killed at that time.
The annual Yom Hazikaron Ceremony creates an opportunity to commemorate our fallen. Not only have we lost those who have been taken from us, but the world has lost out on all the good that these people would have done in their lifetime. Many families choose to perpetuate the memory of their loved ones by taking action for the betterment of the world.
The exhibition at Yom Hazikaron presented four of the projects undertaken by some of the families of fallen soldiers. During the ceremony itself, those attending were introduced to one method of doing so. Under each chair at the ceremony were ‘Pay It Forward’ cards. These cards are in use in Israel. The idea is simple, to do a good deed in memory of the fallen and then pass the card along to someone else to do the same. Guests were asked to join this meaningful endeavour and we challenge readers to do the same — ‘Pay it Forward’ cards are available at the Israel Centre offices.
The event was, as always, supported by Rabbonim and communal leaders. The Israel Centre will ensure that this essential tradition will continue.