Yom HaZikaron ceremony marks Israeli Memorial Day

About 800 people gathered on Sun., May 12 at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Buckhead to mark Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. The ceremony, hosted by Rabbi Joshua Heller of Congregation B’nai Torah, included metro Atlanta bereaved families of Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorism.

Yom HaZikaron service at Ahavath Achim Synagogue (Photo Credit: Office of Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States)

“Today is the day that the state of Israel and all of us worldwide commit ourselves to mourn and commemorate those who gave their lives for our independence and for our inalienable right to a state of our own,” Heller said.

The ceremony included performances by students from The Weber School, The Davis Academy, The Epstein School, and the Atlanta Jewish Academy.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, State Rep. Esther Panitch, and State Rep. Rey Martinez laid wreaths to honor the memory of the fallen Israelis. David Lubin, who is running for State Senate in District 40, lit a memorial candle. Lubin’s daughter, Rose, was killed while serving as an Israeli border police officer on Nov. 6, 2023.

Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States Anat Sultan-Dudan said that this Memorial Day, the first since the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of Southern Israel, was different than others.

“Because the pain over the loss of our loved ones is now part of the landscape… Oct. 7 has changed Israel and every Israeli just as it has changed many of our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world,” she said.

She also noted the 132 hostages still being held hostage in Gaza. Organizers displayed their photos in the synagogue’s courtyard.

Images of the 132 people still being held hostage in Gaza (Photo: Keith Pepper)

Since Israel’s founding 76 years ago, 25,040 soldiers have died, and more than 5,100 Israelis have been killed in terror attacks around the world.

Sultan-Dadon said, “We know that war is brutal and horrific. Which is why our choice has always been the choice of peace but when attacked by those who seek our destruction, we will unite and fight until they can no longer pose a threat.”

In Israel, Yom HaZikaron is marked by a one-minute siren during which the entire country stands still. At the end of Memorial Day (sundown on May 13), Israel transitions into celebrating its Independence Day.

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