The Knesset marked the memory of the 23,169 fallen through songs and poetry Sunday night, in its annual “Singing in Their Memory” ceremony.
The event featured Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen and Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino, among others, reading poetry dedicated to fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, like “Prayer” by Haim Guri.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon spoke of his commander, Maj.-Gen. Nehemia Tamari, who died in a helicopter crash, and the role and responsibilities of commanders.
Singers Shlomi Shabbat, Ruhama Raz, Natan Goshen, Yuval Dayan, Liron Lev, Rivka Zohar, IDF chief cantor Shai Abramson and army bands performed classic songs like “The Song of Friendship” and newer ones like “The Spring is So Short Here,” which David Grossman wrote about his son who was killed in the Second Lebanon War.
Goshen and Shabbat’s trademark melancholy crooning – each in a different musical style – fit the mood of the evening, and many in the audience were seen wiping tears from their eyes.
Several MKs, including Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Nachman Shai (Labor) and Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) attended the ceremony, though the vast majority did not.
In addition, short films about the deceased were shown, including one featuring Raz and her family speaking about her sister, who was killed in the 1989 Bus 405 terrorist attack. The film also showed Raz teaching yoga to other bereaved women.
After the film, Raz sang her song “Dreams of Yesterday.”
Another film focused on Tamir Nabuani, the first Druse soldier to almost finish training for the IDF’s General Staff Reconnaissance Unit. His father spoke about wishing he could have seen his son finish his training with honors and get married.
“May the God of every religion, of this whole universe, bring us peace,” Nabuani’s father said.
Earlier Sunday, Edelstein spoke at the official ceremony in Yad Labanim in Jerusalem.
“This year, we spoke a lot about ‘equality in the burden,’ but we forgot that equality is not here and it will not exist,” Edelstein said. “There is no equality for the pain of a mother and the longing of a father, of the heartbreak of a wife and the cries of a child. Everyone feels the pain in his own way.”
The Knesset speaker continued: “I think we failed the memory of our soldiers when we abandoned a discourse of values and replaced it with one that is cold and alienated.
“Loving the land is not a burden. Devotion to our nation is not a burden. Defeating our enemies, working toward a goal, defending the home front are values, basic values for which our soldiers acted,” he said.