Yesterday, on the eve of Yom HaZikaron, a day of remembrance for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror, Masa Israel Journey hosted its 14th annual Yom HaZikaron Ceremony in Latrun, Israel. The event was held in person and was live-streamed on Masa’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Masa’s ceremony is the largest English-speaking Yom HaZikaron ceremony broadcast from Israel to a global audience. Hosted annually in Latrun, the program returned to its in-person format this year and featured speeches from prominent Israeli government officials, Jewish leaders, Masa alumni, and individuals with touching personal stories. Hundreds of thousands of viewers tuned in including Masa Fellows and alumni, Jewish community leaders, and members of Jewish communities from the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Morocco, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, India, the former Soviet Union, and more.

The theme of this year’s ceremony was “These Are Our Stories” in recognition of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror in Israel and in Jewish communities outside of Israel who left behind a legacy of values, identity, and sacrifice. Throughout the ceremony, stories of the fallen were shared alongside video documentaries and other multimedia presentations crafted specifically for the ceremony.

“Tonight, we recall the bravery, heroism, and sacrifices of the fallen,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a pre-recorded address presented at the ceremony.“ They serve as a reminder of how fortunate and privileged we are to have the State of Israel, a home that we must never take for granted. We remember them all, we remember their sacrifice, and we salute them. May their memories be a blessing.”

Each year, over 12,000 Masa Fellows embark on immersive, long-term programs in Israel to advance their personal and professional journeys. Fellows often describe Masa’s Yom HaZikaron Ceremony as one of the most significant moments of their experience. This year, thousands of Fellows and alumni gathered in Latrun, in cities throughout Israel, and around the world to watch the ceremony and honor Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror in Israel and Jewish communities.

Over 5,000 Fellows in Masa programs in Israel were present at the ceremony at the Yad LaShiryon site in Latrun, in the presence of Dr. Nachman Shai, Minister of Diaspora Affairs; Yaakov Hagoel-Chairman, World Zionist Organization, Acting Chairman, Jewish Agency for Israel; Shalom Shlomo, Cabinet Secretary; MK Evgeny, Soba Deputy Speaker of the Knesset; MK Dr. Yuval Steinitz; Ofer Gutman, Masa CEO; IDF representatives, bereaved families, global Jewish leaders; Becky Caspi, Senior Vice President and CEO of JFNA Israel; and Sam Grundwerg, World Chairman Keren Hayesod.

In a speech at the ceremony, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai said: “We must sanctify the sacrifice of those who gave up their lives for us by striving towards the vision for which they died; the advancement and flourishing of the Jewish people in its homeland.”

Chairman World Zionist Organization & Acting Chairman, Jewish Agency for Israel Yaakov Hagoel said: “Those who are no longer with us and those who are, everyone is standing with us here today. And this evening, we come together and unite to remember them and their heroism, salute them, and say thank you. ”

Bereaved families from global Jewish communities were an integral part of the ceremony. This year’s ceremony shared the stories of:

  • Elijah (Eli) Kay z”l, a South African former lone soldier who was murdered by a terrorist in Jerusalem shortly after being released from the IDF
  • Dan Uzan z”l, a security guard who was killed while defending a synagogue in Copenhagen
  • David Solomonov z”l, a sniper from the United States who fell near the Lebanese border defending his comrades
  • Amichai & Barak Itkis z”l, brothers from Mexico City who fell in the line of duty
  • Ilona Hanukkah z”l, an IDF mechanic from Russia who was murdered by terrorists
  • Marla Bennett z”l, a student from the United States who was murdered in a terrorist attack at Hebrew University in Jerusalem
  • Jordan Ben Simon z”l, a lone soldier from France who fell during Operation Protective Edge

The families and friends of the fallen attended and participated in the ceremony, keeping the memories of their loved ones alive. Elijah Kay’s z’l brother Chanan Kay lit a torch in uniform to honor his brother and David Solomonov’s z’l father Mordechai Solomonov recited kaddish at the ceremony. Against the backdrop of international flags representing Jewish communities around the world, members of Masa’s global community and global Jewish leaders laid memorial wreaths and lit candles to honor all of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

Masa CEO Ofer Gutman said: “Every story we hear today reminds us that having a safe, sovereign Jewish state does not come without a price. In Israel, and across the entire Jewish world, we wish for nothing more than a peaceful future for our children and communities. The families of the fallen—from Israel and across the globe— long for the day when this dream becomes a reality.”

For photos of the event, click here.

For a video of the event, click here.

About The Publishers
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 pipeline for the Jewish Diaspora to access the finest Israeli businesses, social enterprises and academic institutions. Since its 2004 founding by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and The Jewish Agency, Masa has served over 170,000 young people from more than 60 countries.
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