The ceremony brought together Jews from around the world to honor Jewish victims of terror and the fallen Israeli soldiers who gave their lives to protect the State of Israel.
JERUSALEM — April 24, Masa Israel Journey, a leader in Jewish and Israel programming, held their 15th annual Yom HaZikaron ceremony at Yad L’Shiryon in Latrun, Israel. The theme of this year’s ceremony was “Forever Connected,” and with over 7,000 attendees, and hundreds of thousands of viewers across the globe, it was the largest English ceremony in the world. The ceremony was also translated to Spanish, French, and Russian.
Jewish leaders including Mark Wilf, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, and Steven Lowy AM, Chairman of the World Board of Trustees of Keren Heysod-United Israel Appeal, joined Masa Fellows and alumni, bereaved families, board members, Jewish Federation delegates, and community members to commemorate the lives of fallen Israeli soldiers and Jewish victims of terror originally from France, the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, and Argentina. In addition, Hakeem Jeffries Minority Leader of the U.S House of Representatives, and 12 members of the House of Representatives laid a wreath in memory of the fallen.
This year, Israel’s milestone 75th anniversary is an important reminder that we are forever connected through our history and the safety and continued survival of our country. The ceremony was live streamed to global audiences and included speeches from Yossi Fuchs, Israeli Cabinet Secretary; Major General (res.) Doron Almog, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel; Julie Platt, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America; and Ofer Gutman, CEO of Masa Israel Journey. David Koschitzky, Immediate Past Chair of Keren Hayesod’s World Board of Trustees, led the Yizkor prayer.
(L-R): Pictured above are Vladimir Beliak, Member of Knesset; Tsega Melaku, Member of Knesset; Tod Elan, father of Second Lieutenant Carmi Elan z”l, and his granddaughter; Ofer Gutman, CEO of Masa Israel Journey; Yossi Fuchs, Israeli Cabinet Secretary; Stephanie Hallett, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy; Hakeem Jeffries, Minority Leader of the U.S House of Representatives; Major General (res.) Doron Almog, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel; Mark Wilf, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
This year’s ceremony shared the stories of:
- Joyce Fienberg z”l, a victim of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh who spent her life as child development researcher and left behind two children and six grandchildren.
- Second Lieutenant Carmi Elan z”l, a Los Angeles born pilot who died at the young age of 19 due to injuries he received during a training accident.
- Officer Shirel Aboukarat z”l, a 19-year-old Border Police Officer from who made Aliyah from France who was killed by two terrorists during an attack at a bus station in Hadera.
- Michael Ladygin z”l, a Russian native who made Aliyah and was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Ariel in 2022, leaving being a wife and two children.
- Captain Alexander (Sasha) Schwartzman z”l, an IDF soldier from Ukraine who refused evacuation after being injured, and eventually was killed by enemy fire, in battle to ensure his Fellow soldiers were treated first.
- Uriel Bar-Maimon Wolf z”l, a Border Guard Officer who made Aliyah from Argentina and fell during operational activities at the Erez checkpoint.
Nine wreaths were laid by the bereaved families and members of the Israeli government and Knesset in honor of the stories shared.
“Carmi is our fourth son; our other three sons were also in the combat units. We are proud of our children and all their choices. Carmi had a giving personality. Throughout his whole life, he always felt responsible for those around him. I remember Carmi every day, not just today. He is always with us,” said Tod Elan, father of Second Lieutenant Carmi Elan z”l.
“The shared fate between Jews around the world and the State of Israel is molded by those who gave their lives in Israel’s wars and also by the terrible sacrifice of the victims of terrorism and antisemitism around the world. Jews in all corners of the world are deeply connected by the commitment to carry on for the lives that were interrupted. It is this commitment to remember our shared history that united us to form the State of Israel so that we may all thrive together,” said Major General (res.) Doron Almog, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
“Yom HaZikaron, our Day of Remembrance, is an essential part of Israel and the Jewish people. At Masa is it extremely important to us that we recognize we are a forever connected people, and we must reflect on our journey. It makes us who we are. We must honor our fallen and we must mourn our losses. The individual stories shared here tonight are connected by the values of love, determination, sacrifice, and commitment. This ceremony is for us to focus on the heroes who gave their ‘last full measure of devotion’ – and they gave it to Israel. To the Jewish people,” said Ofer Gutman, CEO of Masa Israel Journey.
About Masa Israel Journey:
Masa Israel Journey is the largest immersive, long-term educational experience for young adults ages 16-35. On its programs that range from two months to a year, Masa offers an authentic, unmediated, and challenging journey into Israeli society, culture, politics, and history – and acts as the largest provider for global Jewry to access the finest Israeli businesses, social enterprises, and academic institutions. Since its 2004 founding by The Jewish Agency and government of Israel, Masa has served over 190,000 young people from more than 60 countries.