North American Fallen Remembered at AACI Memorial Forest.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On Sunday, September 20, the annual memorial ceremony in memory of Americans and Canadians who fell in the defense of the State of Israel or died in terrorist attacks was held at the AACI Memorial Forest in the Judean Hills.
In what has now become an annual tradition, the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) held the annual ceremony in memory of North Americans who fell defending Israel or in acts of terror at the AACI Memorial Forest. The forest is located on a hilltop that commands a magnificent view of Sha'ar Hagai, the "gate to the valley", which was the scene of fierce battles for control of the highway to Jerusalem during Israel's War of Independence. Donna Grushka and Rabbi Jay Kartzen, members of the AACI Memorial Committee, led the moving ceremony. In his remarks, Rabbi Kartzen noted that the four new names that were added to the memorial plaque this year were victims of terror, “who were killed for no other reason than that they were Jews.”
KKL-JNF Director of Israel Fundraising Michael Ben Abu addressed the assembly and said that “every year when I attend this ceremony, I ask myself if new names will be added to the plaque during the coming year. This memorial site, which was created by KKL-JNF and the AACI, is a reflection of AACI's commitment to the fallen and their families. I pray that this year will be the last year of adding new names to the memorial wall. We live the legacy of the fallen, and in their merit we remember
, we grow, are compassionate, flourish and blossom."
The new names on the wall were unveiled by AACI National Vice-President Belle Fine-Cohen. Three of them, Rabbi Arye Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalman Zev Levine and Rabbi Moshe Twersky, were murdered on the morning of November 18, 2014, when two Palestinians armed with guns, knives and axes entered a synagogue during prayer time in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood. They attacked the worshippers indiscriminately, killing 4 and wounding 7. Of the four, three were American immigrants.
Chaya Zissel Braun, the fourth victim, was only three months old when she was murdered by an Arab while waiting at a light rail station with her parents, who were on their way home from the Western Wall after thanking God for Chaya’s birth. The Arab deliberately drove his car into the crowd at the train station, and Chaya flew out of her stroller and landed 10 meters away. She died two hours later at Hadassah Hospital.
AACI National President Julian Landau said that although the price we pay is terrible, “thanks to our fallen, our children have the opportunity to grow up in a Jewish state and to live a full and satisfying Jewish life. In the name of AACI, I salute all the 341 names on the memorial plaque.”
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