Memorial Day at the National Institutions Plaza in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
KKL-JNF, together with the Jewish Agency, observed Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror at a moving ceremony that took place at the National Institutions Plaza in Jerusalem, where KKL-JNF’s head offices are located.
This year’s ceremony was dedicated to the memory of Jews who were murdered in Belgium by terrorists – Professor Joseph Wybran, a Belgian immunologist and head of the umbrella organization of Belgian Jewish groups, who was shot to death on October 3, 1989 in the parking lot of the Erasmus Hospital of the Free University of Brussels, where he worked, and Tel Aviv residents Mira and Emanuel Riva, who were murdered in 2014 last year in a terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels.
After a moment’s silence in memory of the victims, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky addressed the audience:
"We desire life, but we are prepared to give our lives to defend our country. Israel's wars do not stop at its borders. Our enemies understand that the strength of the Jewish people is in its unity, so they try to hurt us everywhere in the world. This is why we have chosen to dedicate our Remembrance Day ceremony to victims of terror abroad, who were murdered simply for being Jews. This year we chose to remember terrorist victims from Belgium.”
KKL-JNF has a special connection to the Rivas. In the historic Sarona Park in the heart of Tel Aviv, musical benches were donated by KKL Belgium in 2015 to honor their memory.
World Zionist Organization Chairman Avraham Duvdevani said that when the siren sounds at 11:00, “everyone in Israel comes to a stop and remembers our fallen soldiers and victims of terror. This year, Jews throughout the world will be able to hear the siren on their smartphones and remember together with us. Remembrance Day is a time for the entire Jewish people to remember our pain together. The state of Israel exists not only in order to defend its citizens, but also every Jew, wherever they might live. This mutual responsibility gives us strength to meet our challenges, in Israel and in the Diaspora.”
After the speeches, distinguished guests, including KKL-JNF Director-General Amnon Ben Ami and the Belgian Ambassador to Israel, Olivier Belle, laid wreaths in memory of the victims. The moving ceremony concluded with the singing of Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem.
Read more about the memorial ceremony in Jerusalem and see photos