On Yom HaZikaron (Remembrance Day) to honor Israel’s fallen, soldiers, members of the security forces, and victims of terror, the entire country comes to a standstill. We not only do this as an entire nation, but right before Yom Haatzmaut. We pause to acknowledge with gratitude for one day all that we have but spent the day before focusing on the heavy price we have paid for it first.
I worked for a brief time as the spokesperson at One Family Together, the leading national organization rebuilding, rehabilitating, and reintegrating, the lives of Israel’s victims of terror and their families. They currently support 1,344 injured families, 1,465 bereaved families, 983 bereaved, maimed, and traumatized youth and young adults.
I gained so, so much more than I gave while working there, and my perspective on Israel changed forever in that time. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned was that for the families whose lives have been touched by terror, every day is “Remembrance Day.”
Across Israel, thousands of Yom Hazikaron Ceremonies are held to commemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror. OneFamily’s ceremony is different, and an incredibly unique and moving experience.
Years ago, a group of young terror survivors expressed not feeling comfortable with any other Remembrance Day ceremony. They wanted to be amongst others who know bereavement intimately, experience it every day, share the pain, and understand one another. OneFamily is where they felt the safest to honor their lost loved ones and experience the pain of their loss on that day. So a separate ceremony was created for these children, away from the expectant eyes of their communities that love and care for them but are nevertheless looking from the outside, in. It has since morphed into a huge annual memorial ceremony for victims of all ages, including families that travel from all over the country to take part.
Every year. hundreds of people, many bereaved families, gather in the OneFamily courtyard in Jerusalem for the emotional ceremony, which begins with the memorial siren, followed by heartfelt testimonies from bereaved parents, spouses, sons, daughters, siblings, whose lives have been irreversibly impacted by the loss of someone in their family will take the podium to describe how their lives have changed.
It’s a very personal ceremony. Because they are with their “other family,” as most people I ever worked with or came across at OneFamily describe it, the participants feel incredibly, surprisingly comfortable to talk about what they’re going through. It’s raw emotion, as people open up their hearts and share everything inside of them.
This year’s speakers include:
- Yael Shevach -Widow of Rabbi Raziel Shevach z”l, murdered in a shooting attack on January 9, 2018
- Shlomo Dickstein -Orphan of Both Parents Yosef and Chana z”l, and bereaved brother of Shuv’el z”l murdered together in a shooting attack on July 26, 2002
- Dalia Emanuelof -Bereaved mother of St. Sgt. Dvir Emanuelof z”l killed in Operation Cast Lead on January 4, 2009
- Ayelet Kolman- Widow of Adiel Kolman z”l murdered in stabbing attack on March 19, 2018
- Asaf Yifrah- Bereaved brother of Eyal Yifrah z”l kidnapped and murdered on June 12, 2014
- Yaela Shok – Bereaved daughter of Yosef (Yossi) Shok z”l murdered in a shooting attack on December 6, 2005.
- Naftali Moses – Bereaved Father of Avraham David z”l murdered in the Mercaz Harav Massacre on March 6, 2008
- Dvir Shnerb – Bereaved brother of Rina z”l murdered in a terror attack on August 23, 2019
- Keren Orbach Tzadok – Bereaved mother of Erez Orbach z”l killed in ramming attack on January 8, 2017
- Yosef Kalangel- Bereaved father of Major Yochai Kalangel z”l killed on the Lebanon border on January 28, 2015
- Tohar Ohayon -Bereaved daughter of Rabbi Shai Ohayon z”l, murdered in a stabbing attack on August 26, 2020.
I will be honest with you. Of course it doesn’t sound “fun” to listen to heartfelt and open expressions of challenge and pain. It’s not easy. But it’s CRITICAL, and an incredibly important way to go into Yom HaAtzmaut with the appreciation we all need to have.
I can tell you from personal experience that it is uplifting, meaningful, and ultimately fills you with hope to see so many people leaning on each other, all ages, all walks of life, going through it together. It’s what makes Israel what we are, and it feels powerfully “Israeli” to choose to experience it yourself.
Coronavirus and the restrictions have taken their toll on all of us, and certainly on the OneFamily community. At the same time, the ceremony can now be “attended” and viewed via Youtube or Facebook all over the world.
The Ceremony will be live-streamed via OneFamily’s Facebook Page and YouTube Page “OneFamily Fund.” Tuesday April 13, 2020, 7:45 p.m. Israel time (12:45 p.m. EST, 9:45 a.m. PT). The ceremony will be conducted in Hebrew along with English subtitles.
*If you would like to reserve a seat for the ceremony, you can email email@example.com (Ceremony is open live for Green Passport Holders or a Negative Corona test 2 days prior. )
I hope to see you there.