Yom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An Evening

Yom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An EveningYom Ha'atzamaut And Yom Hazikaron Bridged For An Evening

Hundreds of YJPs came together on the Upper West Side for a night of remembrance and celebration

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In the United States, Memorial Day translates to barbecues, beaches and bonfires. In Israel, the day symbolizes solemnity.

Yom Hazikaron marks Israel’s official remembrance day, in which fallen soldiers are honored and more recently, victims of terrorism have been acknowledged as part of the sacred day. 

On Monday night, hundreds of young, Jewish professionals came out to The Jewish Center on West 86th Street to pay tribute to lost Jewish lives.

Organized by JCC Manhattan, UJA-Federation of New York and the UWS Celebrates Israel Initiative, the annual event is in its fifth year parterning with synagogues in New York City to bring together young professionals from around the area. In the past, The Jewish Center, Kehillat Reim Ahuvim, Ramat Orah, WSIS and Ohav Zedek have participated. This year, the Manhattan Jewish Experience joined the ranks.

“I wanted MJE members to meet the thriving Jewish community of the Upper West Side and at the same time I wanted the Orthodox community to see the great crowd we have, full of enthusiastic Jews seeking to grow spiritually,” said MJE West director Atara Neuer. “God is happy when his people are unified.”

And unity had a strong presence throughout the night as over 700 people gathered in the vast sanctuary to show solidarity for Israel.

Matt Schwartz, a former Lone Soldier, spoke, calling upon members of “Soldiers in Exile,” inviting them to share a memory of a soldier who fell in battle.

Rabbi Mark Wildes, founder and director of MJE, introduced Schwartz and the soldiers who spoke. Wildes delivered an anecdote in which he described noted Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Zlaman Auerbach being approached by a student who told him he was going to leave Jerusalem and travel to Tzfat to pray at the graves of the great rabbis buried there. He then told the crowd how the respected rabbi replied, “You don’t have to go to Tzfat to pray at the graves of the righteous — just go down the block to Har Herzl, to Israel’s national cemetery, that’s also where the tzadikkim (holy people) are buried.”

Wildes went on to expound that those who sacrificed their lives for the State of Israel are considered holy. “Therefore, before we begin to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut and Israel’s 69th birthday, we remember the soldiers who gave their lives in all of Israel’s wars,” said Wildes. “We on the Upper West Side take note of the many Lone Soldiers, individuals from our own community who served in the IDF,” he said. “Who better than they to show the honor to Israel’s fallen soldiers that they so deserve?”

Singing “Hitoreri” to the tune of “Yerushalayim Shel Zachav,” New York based Jewish a cappella group, Six13, imbued the service with an aesthetic layer of emotion.

Though beginning on a solemn note (members of Six13 hummed moving melodies as soldiers who were scattered among the crowd stood up one by one to deliver tributes as the names and faces of fallen soldiers scrolled across the screen), the night was also about celebration.

Wanting to draw attention to the grave significance of Yom Hazikaron and how it is experienced in Israel — at 8 pm a siren rings throughout the land and for several seconds the country comes to a halt as everyone shares a moment of silence — MJE also wished to commemorate life in salute of Yom Ha’atzamaut, or Israel’s Independence Day.

Unlike its Memorial Day, Yom Ha’atzamaut is a day in Israel where cheer fills the streets and people dance and revel into the night.

As attendees joined in on the festive tune, “Tefillah Chagigit,” led by Cantor Chaim Dovid Berson, the crowd traded mourning for merrymaking as they left their seats and danced in a giant circle around the grand space.

Culminating in a party on the main level, guests enjoyed specialty cocktails like the “Tel Aviv Sunrise,” indulged in blue and white cupcakes, enjoyed authentic Israeli cuisine from Grill 212 and grooved to live, upbeat music from Six13.

Powerfully transitioning to the second phase of the evening with Ha Tikvah followed by a prayer for the State of Israel, the night took on the resilient spirit of the Jewish people as guests drank, laughed, danced — and toasted to life.

Yom Hazikaron

Yom Ha'atzmaut

MJE

Manhattan Jewish Experience

YJPs

Jewish nightlife

Jewish holidays

The Jewish Center

JCC

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