On Sunday, September 18, the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) will honor the memory of three people at their annual Memorial Ceremony. The event is scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. at the AACI Memorial Forest near the Sha'ar Hagai junction outside Jerusalem.
The ceremony, which has been held every year since 1983, is run in conjunction with the Jewish National Fund. Every year it honors American or Canadian citizens or their immediate family members, or AACI associate members, who fell in service of the State of Israel or were victims of terrorism.
"This is a moving tribute to those who made the supreme sacrifice so that Israel can exist as an independent and strong Jewish state," said an AACI representative.
The names of the honorees are inscribed on a memorial plaque at the site, and the ceremony includes traditional memorial prayers, including the Kaddish and El Ma'aleh Rahamim, as well as a prayer for the well-being of IDF soldiers. The event this year will also feature guest speaker and American-born Superintendent Gil Kleiman, Foreign Press Spokesman for the Israel National Police.
"It used to be mostly soldiers [who were honored]," said Chanah Shapira, Program Coordinator of AACI Jerusalem. "But in recent years [the ceremony] has included victims of terror."
This year, those remembered will be Tiferet Tratner, Yaacov Moshe Blum, and Menachem Mendel (Max) Cottin. Cottin, in fact, died in 1938, but information about him came to AACI's attention in the past year.
Tratner, Jerusalem born and daughter of American immigrants, was killed when a Palestinian-fired mortar shell hit her house in Neveh Dekalim on the morning before Yom Kippur last year. She was 24. Eli Mozes, the father of the family in Neveh Dekalim which informally adopted Tratner, told The Jerusalem Post shortly after she was killed that she was a talented, warm, and intelligent woman. "Everyone was touched by her," he said. Tratner is particularly remembered for her dedication to the elderly and for her love of animals. She had studied to be a dog trainer.
Yaacov Moshe Blum
In April 1990, Blum suffered severe head and neck damage while setting up a secret radar station for the Air Force that left him unconscious for 10 months and then paralyzed from the shoulders down. After a long and difficult process of rehabilitation, Blum began painting with brush-in-mouth, and even had his works exhibited at Beit Halohem in 2000. He constantly fought to live a normal life, taking university courses and doing traget shooting with a special rifle. He passed away in August 2003.
Menachem Mendel (Max)
Cottin made aliya with his wife Yetta to Jerusalem in 1934, after serving as a shamas in a Lower East Side, New York synagogue for many years. After he was widowed, Cottin moved to Tiberias, where he was killed in the Arab riots of October 1938. His daughter Esther, married an Indian Jew and was living in Bombay when she learned of her father's death. Esther and her husband subsequently moved to the US and her daughter Wendy Bar-Yakov made aliya in 1970 and lives in Moshav Neveh Ilan. Wendy said she recently found a copy of the original Palestine Post article from 1938 detailing her grandfather's death.
At last year's memorial ceremony, the honored were six new names and two young men who were killed in 1938. They were: St.- Sgt. Shaul Lahav, killed in November 2003 at a road block at the tunnel to Gush Etzion; Tamar Lerman, who died while serving in the army in October 2003; St.- Sgt. David Solomonov, who, at the end of his military service in the Golani, volunteered to serve over the Yom Kippur weekend and was killed by a sniper at the Lebanese border; Dr. David Appelbaum and his daughter Nava, who perished in the September 2003 Cafe Hillel bombing, the day before Nava was to be married; and Yehezkel (Chezi) Goldberg who was killed in a terrorist attack on the no. 19 bus in Jerusalem; the two young men who died 66 years previously were Eliezer Krongold and Ephraim Tiktim, close friends who were ambushed and killed near Yokneam on their way home. The ceremony was attended by over 300 people.
Donna Grushka, who has been on the memorial committee for many years, adds an interesting twist to the story of Krongold and Tiktin. She tells how Tiktin's son, born after his father's death and now a grandfather, was on a tiyul near Sha'ar Hagai when he noticed the AACI memorial and saw that his father's name was missing from the list. He then contacted the AACI and gave them the details of the two friends. Tiktin, who is named Ephraim after the father he never knew, attended last year's ceremony with his mother, Yehudit and this year they will be returning to light the memorial flame at the 2005 ceremony.
Rabbi Jay Karzen, co-chairman of the ACCI Memorial Committee, explained that the event is organized as a combination of Israeli nationalism and Jewish ritual. Although usually ambassadors from the Canadian and US embassies do not attend personally, they send condolence letters, and representatives from the embassies have come to the event.
The AACI Memorial ceremony is a way to keep the spirit alive of those who have perished, said Karzen.
"The memorial ceremony is one of the most important events that they AACI sponsors each year, and it's the least we can do to show respect to the victims of terror and violence," he said.
A bus will be leaving from the AACI building to the ceremony. Call (02) 561 7151 to reserve a place.
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