Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky kindles a memorial flame together with two members of the Nahari family.
(photo credit: SASSON TIRAM)
Each year on Yom Hazikaron - Remembrance Day for the Fallen and Victims of Terror - the Jewish Agency conducts a memorial ceremony that also includes the commemoration of Diaspora Jews who were murdered for no reason other than the fact that they were Jews.
Because each victim is an individual with a personal story, the annual commemoration focuses on one particular victim whose family members have either already migrated to Israel, or are brought to Israel for the ceremony.
This year the individual story was that of Moshe Yaish Nahari, a 35-year-old Yemenite father of nine, who in December 2008 was gunned down in the market place in Raydah, a small town in Yemen, when he went to buy provisions for Shabbat.
Nahari, a teacher and a leader of his local community, was also responsible for ritual slaughter and circumcision. He was approached by Abdel Aziz Yehia Hamoud al-Abdi, a form MIG-29 pilot, who called out to him to accept the message of Islam. Nahari refused, telling his assailant: “You remain a Muslim, and I’ll remain a Jew.” He was then killed.
After the murder, five of his children were brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency; their only contact with their mother and siblings was via occasional phone calls.
In August 2012, the family was reunited when the Jewish Agency brought Moshe's widow Louza and the remaining to Israel. Six months later they were joined by his parents, Yisrael and Temeja Nahari. The family now lives in Bnei Brak.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said that Nahari’s story reminded him of that of journalist Daniel Pearl, whose last words to his captors in Pakistan before they murdered him were: "My father's Jewish, my mother's Jewish, I'm Jewish." Pearl was commemorated by the Jewish Agency three years ago.
Referring to terrorist attacks against Jews in a school in Toulouse, a kosher supermarket in Paris and a synagogue in Copenhagen, Sharansky noted that despite all this, “Jews remain Jews.”
The Jewish Agency has 2000 emissaries around the world who are strengthening the connections between the Jewish People and Israel, he said, noting that this year more than 60,000 young people came to Israel on Jewish Agency programs. “Our weapon of defense is aliya,” he said, citing an immigration figure of 30,000 over the past year, mostly from France, Argentina and Ukraine.
Leah Nahari, 16, spoke of her father as someone who was personable, popular and able to instantly connect with anyone. He was "a very pious Jew, and unwilling to give up his heritage and his traditions.”
Her family had been shattered by her father’s death, she said. They were all afraid to go outside and were guarded by the security authorities for their own protection. “We stayed under guard in the house until the Jewish Agency brought us to Israel.”
The separation from her mother and younger siblings was painful. "I can’t express the joy we felt when our mother and younger siblings were brought to Israel," she said, "we learned to live again."
Avraham Duvdevani, the chairman of the World Zionist Organization said that over the past year 68 more names had been added to the list of fallen soldiers which in total numbered 23,477. When each of these soldiers went to the army, they were anonymous individuals, he said, "but after they fell, they emerged from anonymity as the stories of their lives were told and their characters were described."
Sharansky, aided by Sasson and Gavriel Nahari, lit the memorial flame and later, accompanied by Daniel and Yosef Nahari, he placed the first of several wreaths in front of a memorial board bearing the names of Diaspora Jews who had been murdered in the UK, France, Belgium, USA, on board the Achille Lauro cruise ship, Turkey, Denmark, Argentina, India, Yemen and Algeria during the period 1958-2015.