Baltimore Zionist District will hold its Virtual Yom Hazikaron Memorial Ceremony April 27. The digital event replaces what had been a planned in-person event, and is co-hosted by The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, the JCC of Greater Baltimore, Friends of the IDF, and Beth Tfiloh Congregation.
“Here at the BZD, every year we do a Yom Hazikaron ceremony in the community, usually at Beth Tfiloh Congregation, as a way to honor the fallen soldiers from the Israeli army,” said Adi Ratzon, BZD’s Israeli shlicha.
“This year, because we weren’t able to meet in person, we changed it to the virtual Zoom platform. We will still do the prayers, like Yizkor and El Maleh Rachamim and all the main things that show our respect for those soldiers who lost their lives in order to protect Israel.”
A few hundred people are expected to attend the online event, Ratzon said.
Speakers include Caren Leven, BZD executive director; Barak Hermann, the JCC CEO; Rabbi Chai Posner of Beth Tfiloh; Cantor Melanie Blatt of Beth El Congregation; Marty Taylor, president of the Baltimore chapter of the FIDF; and Rabbi Joshua Z. Gruenberg of Chizuk Amuno Congregation.
Ratzon also plans to speak, sharing her personal experiences.
“I’m an Israeli, and I served in the army, and I will share a story of a friend of mine who lost his life during one of the operations we had in the country,” Ratzon said. “We are doing this with a few congregations and Jewish organizations in the community, and we do it all together, because we want to do something big and meaningful for the Baltimore community.”
As a former member of the IDF, Ratzon expressed the importance of commemorating the sacrifices made by Israel’s armed forces.
“I think of the fact that we are able to live in Israel and form families and have a good life because they were protecting us,” she said. “And every Israeli knows someone who lost someone, and it’s really meaningful to pause and reflect on all the things that we’ve accomplished because of their sacrifices.”
Ratzon also stressed the importance of finding a way to continue with the event despite the ongoing public health crisis.
“In these days, with the COVID-19 situation … it doesn’t mean we can’t honor their lives,” she said. “It’s just as important as in normal times to be grateful for what we owe to them for the beautiful country we have.”
There will be other events for Israel that week, too. Chizuk Amuno Congregation will host a virtual Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration April 29, according to Sarah Jacobs, Chizuk Amuno’s director of development and engagement. The event will include a welcome from Isaac Herzog of the Jewish Agency, an Israeli trivia game, a cooking demonstration, and group singing, including “Hatikvah.”
“We will do just a few fun things to connect and see each other’s faces,” Jacobs said. “It’s a day to show your pride in Israel, and to show our support from a distance.”