A special memorial service was held in honor of Remembrance Day Tuesday night for fallen IDF soldiers and those from haredi (ultra-Orthodox) units.
The ceremony was held in the Shalva hall in Jerusalem and broadcast online to the public.
This is the third year the ceremony has been held, at the initiative of the Netzach Yehuda Association, along with the Defense Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality.
Along with the hundreds of religious soldiers and bereaved family members, a number of notable guests attended the ceremony. This included Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, along with representatives from Netzach Yehuda, the IDF and the Defense Ministry.
The ceremony began with the mourner's kaddish prayer, recited by the father of one of the victims of the Givat Assaf shooting attack. Then, Netzach Yehuda founder Rabbi Yitzhak Bar-Haim recited a chapter of Tehilim (Psalms) and then El Malei Rahamim (God full of compassion) was sung by IDF chief cantor Shai Abramson and the Military Rabbinate Choir.
After several speeches, the ceremony ended with the singing of "Hatikva" (The Hope) and "Ani Maamin" (I Believe) led by Akiva Turgeman."We gathered here today in memory and in honor of our dear sons who gave their lives for the Land of Israel and the people of Israel, and in doing so, sanctified Heaven both in life and through their deaths,” said Rabbi Reuven Bitton, who represented the bereaved parents, and father of fallen IDF soldier Eliyahu Bitton.
“We bereaved parents have been chosen by Divine Providence to withstand this test of faith. We thank the Creator, who gives us the strength to deal with our grief, pain and loss. May it be His will that we merit seeing the vision of Tehiyat Hametim [the resurrection of the dead]."
"Last year, we held an isolated and remote memorial ceremony. This year we get to remember and even hug the families who are very dear to us," said Yossi Levy, CEO of Netzach Yehuda, which accompanies all haredi soldiers on ultra-Orthodox routes in the IDF."This year, following right after Pesach, which symbolizes the redemption of Israel and the hope that the fallen have instilled in us, this evening symbolizes the unity of the people of Israel, an evening that proves that all gaps in society can be bridged. Yes, the haredi public, together with the general public, also shares the memory and knows how to remember the fallen."
Deri warmly recalled the love of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef towards the soldiers. “He would ask us to imagine who was sitting in the front row, before the Holy One in Heaven,” said Deri. “We would say: our holy forefathers, Moses, all the fathers of the nation, the prophets, the Tannaic and Amoraic sages. "To which he replied, ‘Moses and the holy fathers sit in the third row, and in the first two rows are the souls of those who gave their lives in the sanctification of God’s name. How God loves these holy souls so much.’ Dear parents, blessed are you who have been privileged to raise such children.”
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion added: "Tonight we laud the contribution of those soldiers who fell in the struggle to defend our homeland. In death, they command us to live, not just in the physical sense, but also in the national and societal sense. Our lives include all shades of Israeli society. Their death sharply illustrates how we are all brothers fighting shoulder to shoulder against the enemy. Tonight, we study Mishnayot (Oral Law) and recite Tehillim in honor of the heroism and contribution of the martyrs.”