Four-year-old Moishe Holzberg, whose parents Gavriel and Rivka, Chabad
emissaries in Mumbai, were killed in a terror attack in November 2008, will
light one of the 12 beacons of hope and triumph this Independence Day, the
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry announced this
Moishe Holzberg, who is being raised by his maternal grandparents,
Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg and his wife Yehudit, was chosen along with his
grandfather to light the beacon at the Mount Herzl military cemetery, as
representatives of the Chabad light that emanates into the darkness of the
But theirs is not the only tragedy that will be remembered at the
Mount Herzl gathering this year. There will also be the Carmel fires, with their
horrendous death toll, and the courage and humanity of a mother whose
15-year-old son died from a rare genetic disease.
The Holocaust continues
to haunt Israel, and its presence will be felt at the beaconlighting ceremony,
as will the long period of persecution of Soviet Jewry.
Among the other
beaconlighters is Sa’ar Shapira, an 11th-grade student at the Reali School in
Haifa. Shapira was a volunteer firefighter along with his friend Elad Riven, 16,
who ran out to help fight the fire on the Carmel and paid with his life. Because
the majority of those who died in the fire were Prisons Service officers and
cadets, Shapira will be joined in the ceremony by Arij Rahab, the first female
Druse officer in the Prisons Service.
Fifteen months ago, Orit Dror of
Kibbutz Lavi lost her 15-year-old son Netzer. Without hesitation, the grieving
mother made the decision to donate his organs to enable others to live. As a
result, she saved the lives of three people, one of them a 13-yearold girl who
suffered from cystic fibrosis.
Holocaust survivor Michael Goldman Gilad,
who still bears the Auschwitz number 161135 on his arm, joined the police force
after coming to Israel, and headed the team that interrogated Adolf
He also witnessed Eichmann’s execution. Goldman Gilad
symbolizes the rising of the nation from the ashes.
Physicist and former
Refusenik Zeev Dashevsky realized that most immigrants from the former Soviet
Union lacked Jewish and Zionist knowledge. While in the USSR, he was a
clandestine Hebrew teacher; had he been caught, he would surely have been
imprisoned. In Israel, he established the Mahanayim institution to teach Jewish
and Zionist values to new immigrants.
Col. (res.) Omer Bar-Lev, who was a
General Staff commander in the IDF, today chairs Aharei (After Me), an
organization dedicated to persuading youth from peripheral communities to join
The other beacon-lighters are former MK Matityahu Drobeles, who
headed the Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency and worked tirelessly to
establish new settlements throughout the country; Hosha Friedman Ben- Shalom, a
colonel in the reserves who does 165 days a year of reserve duty and heads the
pre-military training school Beit Israel, which has a mixed
religious-and-secular student body; Zahava Dankner, who engages in numerous
volunteer activities and, like her business tycoon son Nochi Dankner, donates
money to many causes, particularly those involving southern communities under
threat from Gaza; Gadi Bashari, founder of the Sweet Heart organization, which
assists soldiers, the disabled, and new immigrants of every background; Yobi
Teshuma, who immigrated from Ethiopia in 1984 and in 2005 founded Friends in
Nature, an organization committed to helping Ethiopian immigrants; and American
immigrant Barbara Goldstein, the deputy director of the Hadassah Office in
Israel, who has been a fervent Zionist all her life.
Hadassah, which will
celebrate its centenary on Purim 2012, has launched its centenary year, in honor
of which Goldstein is lighting the beacon.
The overall theme of Israel’s
62nd Independence Day is one of mutual responsibility. It has always been a
given that Jews are responsible for one another, and even more so in the Jewish
Independence Day this year falls on May 9 – the day after VE Day,
which coincides this year with Remembrance Day for the Fallen.