The mood at Temple Emanuel was somber as guests began to filter in. Along the walls of the hall leading to the sanctuary were photos of the fallen, faces of men, women, and children, each with a lit candle of remembrance. Despite a steady flow of attendees making their way down the corridor, the hallway was silent but for the whispers of recognition and sadness.
The ceremony was opened by Rabbi Kolby Morris-Dahary, who led those gathered in Elli, Elli, whose lyrics were written in 1942, in poem form, by Hungarian Jewish WWII resistance fighter Hannah Szenes. JEWISHcolorado President and CEO Rabbi Jay Strear welcomed the community; he was followed by Rabbi Joseph Black, who led the invocation.
In one of the most moving portions of the program, three of JEWISHcolorado’s shinshinim, our young Israeli emissaries, spoke about what it was like to commemorate Yom HaZikaron so far from home and about their passion for Israel, their homeland. Shinshinit Yali Harel performed a rendition of Ho Rav Hovel, Oh, Captain, My Captain, with Cantorial Soloist Steve Brodsky.
Guest speaker Gad Goldwasser, who lost his brother First Sargeant Ehud Goldwasser, in 2006— although Ehud’s death was not confirmed, nor his body returned to the family, until 2008— traveled from Ramat HaNegev to speak at the event. He has also been sharing his and his family’s heart-wrenching story at local Jewish day schools, high schools, and for small groups around Colorado.
Originally enacted into law in 1963, Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s official Remembrance Day or Memorial Day. The commemoration has since been expanded to acknowledge those civilians who lost their lives as a result of terrorism.
Celebrated the day before Yom Ha’atzmaut or Israel’s Independence Day, Yom HaZikaron reminds us of the price we have paid in order to have a Jewish State. And that we must never forget those who gave their lives so that Israel can remain a beacon of welcome and acceptance for those seeking to make her their home.
Watch the full ceremony here.