On Sunday night, April 17, bereaved families and community members packed Stephen S. Wise Temple, some holding back tears, for the third annual ceremony commemorating Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. Prayers, songs and stories both in English and Hebrew honored soldiers who died defending the state of Israel.
“For the right way we sometimes pay a heavy price — life,” said Jacob Dayan, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles. “Our soldiers are our oxygen, and without them we cannot live and would not be here today.”
This year, 111 soldiers’ names, both men and women, were added to the list of defenders. “Everybody dies, but not everybody truly lives; Avi lived,” said Yoav Schaefer, whose twin brother, Avi Schaefer, 21, son of Santa Barbara’s Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer and his wife, Laurie, was a freshman at Brown University. Avi was killed by a drunk driver in February in Providence, R.I. Both brothers volunteered for the IDF in the summer of 2006 and returned home safely in 2009.
“We need to appreciate that our quality of life would be considerably different if there were no state of Israel,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the gathering. “Let us understand that the lives lost matter to us as they mattered to them.”