A time to remember, a time to party

Yom Hazikaron commemoration 2016. Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University. Photo: Peter Haskin

IN the wake of Yom Hashoah, we look ahead to another week of commemorations and celebrations in the days ahead.

The sombre occasion of Yom Hazikaron will begin next Tuesday evening, contrasted with the jubilation that follows with Yom Ha’atzmaut the following night.

It is peak season for Zionism Victoria, who have been busily working to ensure an array of offerings for the community.

On Tuesday, the annual Yom Hazikaron tekes will take place in memory of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror at the Robert Blackwood Hall.

“The tekes is a solemn and meaningful tribute. It is truly moving to see so many members of our community turn up to demonstrate a strong connection to, and solidarity with Israel, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Zionism Victoria events manager Ariella Birnbaum.
Seventeen-year-old Mayan Gafin will join her brothers, Elad and Idan, to light a memorial candle for their grandfather, Eliyahu Aluf.

Aluf had made aliyah alone from Morocco as a young teen, to be later joined by his family. In the ensuing years, he served in the army as a commander in a tank unit.

The youngest of seven children, Aluf is remembered as being “an amazing leader”, said Mayan.

“He always helped his family financially and put them first.”

Despite surviving the Six-Day War, Aluf would tragically lose his life as the result of an accident that occurred during a night training exercise as part of his reserve service.

Mayan told The AJN how the family recently found a letter that her grandfather had written while in the reserves. It was eerily foreshadowing.

“He wrote about how he didn’t like night training, and he had a bad feeling about it,” shared Mayan.

“It has impacted our relationship with the army, and with Israel itself. We realise how close to home it is, and soldiers do put their lives on the line. It is not a slogan – it is true.”

While Mayan may not have had the opportunity to know her grandfather, she is inspired by his legacy. Like her mother, who followed in Aluf’s footsteps and served as a leader in the tank unit, Mayan too has her sights set on a seat in the tank.

“I would like to finish what my grandfather started, and what my mother carried on,” said a resolute Mayan.

When the sun sets on Yom Hazikaron for another year, the mood will switch to party mode for Israel’s 70th Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Beneath the high-flying Israeli flags in Federation Square, a Yom Ha’atzmaut flash mob will kick off on Wednesday evening at 6.15pm.

Later in the evening, Israel’s Birthday Bash will get under way, a party for young adults aged 18 and over at the Railway Hotel in Windsor.

But festivities will come to a crescendo on Thursday as the 70th Yom Ha’atzmaut Festival brings the whole family together at Caulfield Racecourse.

Haven’t ridden a camel since you visited the Bedouins in Israel? This will be your chance.

Perhaps the kibbutz petting zoo is more to your liking? Israel-themed arts and crafts, stalls, the opportunity to send a note to the Kotel in Israel, an inflatable obstacle course and giant slide will also be on offer.

But that is just the beginning of the extravaganza. At the TLV Cafe, play a game of sheshbesh, relax with live Israeli music or take in the story slam. Meanwhile, on the main stage, festival-goers are invited to dance along to Shivim Shirim, the live on-stage countdown of the community’s favourite Israeli songs. And when it’s time for a nosh, head to the Israeli street food precinct.

“We can’t wait to see our whole community at the festival which we have designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages,” enthused Birnbaum.

“It is always heart-warming to see the sea of blue and white as our community comes together to express such a strong passion for Israel at this time.”

For more info on the Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut events, visit https://www.facebook.com/ZionismVictoria/

REBECCA DAVIS