In a solemn ceremony that evokes a somber message and compels participants to act as if they are in synagogue, The Brandeis School in Lawrence commemorated the 71st anniversary of Israel’s annual Memorial Day, known in Hebrew as Yom HaZikaron on May 7.
Head of School Raz Levin, led by discussing the importance of commemorating Yom HaZikaron. “Tonight will be emotionally challenging for us to go through,” Levin said. “We are here to recognize that our freedom comes with a price and that our freedom is getting smaller by the moment.”
He noted the sacrifice that has been made to ensure the security of the Jewish state. “We have lost 23,741 people in total,” Levin said. “This number is composed of innocent victims of terror attacks against Israel and the brave soldiers who went on a mission eager to fight and protect the nation.” A video displaying the heroism of Israeli soldiers was shown.
In recent years, the dedication has extended to civilian victims of terrorism. This year, Yom HaZikaron was observed from May 7 to 8. Yom Ha’atzmaut, which is Israel’s Independence Day, followed from sunset on May 8 until nightfall on May 9. Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948.
“We hold this event yearly and it has become a community event in the past five years,” said Leslie Gang, the school’s executive administrative assistant and director of communications. “It’s important for us to welcome the entire community to join us for this poignant ceremony.”
All 13 Brandeis seventh grade students took the stage to recite prayers in English and Hebrew. Levin said he thought of that since it dovetails with his revamped Jewish History Curriculum in the middle school. “The seventh-graders learn about the Zionist movement from the beginning to current events and the eighth graders learn about the Holocaust,” he said. “Therefore the seventh-graders perform during Yom HaZikaron, and eighth-graders respectively for Yom HaShoah.” Yom HaShoah, known as Holocaust Remembrance Day was from May 1 to 2. Teacher Shelly Zaltsman coordinated the event.
Rabbi Saul Haimoff teaches middle school Judaic Studies at Brandeis and he recited “El Maleh Rachamim,” which is a memorial prayer for soldiers who lost their lives in battle and citizens who were killed in terror attacks.
“The seventh grade class performed an incredibly moving and dignified memorial service, in honor of the fallen soldiers and terror victims of Israel,” Haimoff said. “May the memories of the valiant heroes who sacrificed their lives for our protection forever be a memory, and may God watch over all of the citizens of Israel and protect them from harm.”
Commemorating Yom HaZikaron teaches his students the significance of Israel, service to the Jewish state and the sacrifice it takes for the Middle Eastern nation to remain in existence.
“The Brandeis students take pride in being part of the American, Jewish and Israeli communities,” he said in a follow up email. “It is important for the students to learn that the freedom of The Jewish nation comes at a cost. We are raising our students to learn and recognize the importance of the Jewish state, of serving in the army and paying tribute to the heroes who gave their lives or were injured in different wars and terror attacks.”