Participants of Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly spent the solemn day of Yom Hazikaron alongside Israelis, as the country paid tribute to terror victims and fallen soldiers who gave their lives in defense of the Jewish State.
On the eve of Yom Hazikaron, participants joined a ceremony organized by Masa Israel Journey that was attended by 7,000 participants, including thousands of Jewish youth from around the globe. The ceremony, themed “Forever Connected,” featured stories of olim who were killed in terror acts or during their military services, as well as Jewish people who were murdered in antisemitic incidents overseas.
Jewish Federations of North America Board Chair Julie Platt addressed the audience saying, “It is my solemn duty today to represent the Jewish communities across North America to convey a clear message: we are one people, the daughters and sons and parents and grandparents who fell in battle or acts of terror in Israel’s 75 years, are our daughters and sons and parents and grandparents too. We feel their loss and we feel the pain of their relatives and friends as if they were our own.”
During the day, participants traveled in smaller groups to cities around the country, attending memorial services alongside bereaved families and taking part in learning circles with young Israelis on the meaning of the day.
In Elad, Jewish Federations’ leadership joined bereaved families and the mayor of the city Israel Porush at the city’s commemoration of last year’s horrific terror attack that took the lives of four Israelis. Together, they dedicated a memorial to honor their memories.
Jewish Federations of North America President & CEO Eric Fingerhut addressed the bereaved families and said, “We wanted to stand together with you to honor their memories at this moving event because we are one people.”
The mayor said, “There is something comforting, there is something that can provide a bit of strength. And that is the ‘togetherness,’ the feeling that you are not alone, that there are people here with you to share in the pain and difficulty.”
Jewish Federations’ leadership also participated in a ceremony in Jerusalem hosted by The Jewish Agency for Israel in cooperation with the World Zionist Organization, KKL, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Federations of Canada. The event paid tribute to the victims of the Kfar Etzion Massacre, where residents of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion defended the grounds during a two-day battle in 1948, a day before the declaration of Israel’s independence.
This year’s General Assembly coincided with Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days and celebrated 75 years of partnership between North American Jewry and Israel and Jewish Federations’ decades-long investment in building and supporting a flourishing Jewish state. The events and accompanying Jewish Federations’ missions brought over 3,000 Jews from North America and Israel. Held every year, The General Assembly is the most consequential gathering of the leadership of the North American Jewish community and brings together Jewish leaders of diverse backgrounds in a space that fosters productive dialogue and debate.