MORE than 600 members of the community turned out to pay their respects to Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims at a moving ceremony on Tuesday evening.
Quoting former Israeli Prime Minster Golda Meir – who said, “It is true we have won all our wars, but we have paid for them; we don’t victories any more” – Zionist Council of NSW (ZCNSW) president Richard Balkin noted that over 23,000 Israelis have fallen, equating to “more than half the size of our NSW [Jewish] community”.
“We will never forget them and we will always come together to remember,” he said.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy Anat Sultan-Dadon expressed how each year on this solemn day, “we hope that this number will not grow”.
“And yet this past year, this sad figure has yet again increased by a further 102 soldiers and 12 civilian victims of terror,” she said.
“Behind these numbers lie names, faces, life stories and dreams which came to an abrupt end.”
Paying tribute to all Israel’s fallen, she said, “It is thanks to all those who have paid the ultimate price that we are able to celebrate our sovereignty.
“We remember family members, friends, neighbours, classmates and colleagues who we are all indebted to.
“They have our eternal gratitude.”
Israeli advocates Elisha Levy and Lazar Berman, who have been brought out by ZCNSW to speak at Jewish day schools and public schools, both told a touching story of personal loss – each had a friend who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the Israeli Defence Forces.
ZDVO president Michael Balkin lit the memorial candle accompanied by Rabbi Yehuda Niasoff.
JNF NSW president Pam Krail also spoke, while Israeli band Ensemble Or provided several moving songs.
Representatives of Zionist youth groups also played roles, while ZCNSW vice-president Rebecca Lacey-Ehrlich provided a fitting conclusion to the proceedings: “As the sun sets tomorrow night… Israel will replace her tears and her sorrow with the joy of Yom Ha’atzmaut.
“We will shed our grief and celebrate Israel’s 70th year of independence. For Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut are two sides of the same coin.”
The commemoration, which was held at Moriah College, was jointly hosted by ZCNSW and JNF.