NEW YORK – The Israeli Consulate in New York commemorated Israel’s Memorial Day at the 92nd Street Y on Sunday. The annual service included addresses from Israeli consul general Ido Aharoni, several families members of IDF soldiers who fell on active duty, in war and from terrorism, and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the senior rabbi of Park East Synagogue.
“This 10-day cycle [between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Independence Day] reminds us of the inseparable link between the darkest and lightest chapters in our nation’s history,” Aharoni said.
He listed the official statistics: 23,169 fallen soldiers in war, 2,495 from terrorism, 2,141 orphans and 9,931 parents whose children died.
In the past year, 57 soldiers fell in combat.
“There are more than 17,000 bereaved families. We remember them all,” he said. “There were and always will be those among us who put their lives on the line for the sake of us all. Today, we salute the women and men who sacrificed their lives so we could be here today. More than 60 years have passed since the execution by the Nazis of Haviva Reik, who fought with the allied forces in World War II, and the tragic death of Captain Moran Vardi during a battle in Nablus. Time goes by, but our values remain.”
Schneier spoke passionately about the need for all Jews to stand up for the Jewish state in the same way the soldiers and ambassadors do. “We, the beneficiaries of a vibrant State of Israel, owe not only a debt of gratitude but our continued existence, to the men and women of Zahal [IDF] who made the heroic ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “The preservation of Israel’s democracy, peace and security is the shared responsibility of all of the Jewish people. It is our obligation to protect and to defend the only Jewish state.”
“Their sacrifice was not in vain,” he continued. “We have a Jewish state today. A vibrant Jewish state, a state that is [a] stable, dependable ally of the United States, because of the sacrifices of those who fought.”
Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor lead part of the service. He read the poem “The Silver Platter,” by the influential poet Nathan Alterman.
The event featured performances by singers Mika Hary and Yehuda Gavra, accompanied by pianists Omer Schonberger, Daniel Meron and Shai Bachar, as well as Cantors Netanel Hershtik of the Hampton Synagogue and Prof.
Joseph Malovany, chief cantor of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, who sang the “El Maleh Rahamim” prayer.