Some 700 members of the Los Angeles community gathered Tuesday night in the Steve Tisch Cinema Center at the Saban Theatre to commemorate “Yom Hazikaron,” Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror. Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), the Temple of the Arts, and the Consulate General of Israel hosted the community-wide event ahead of Israel’s 71st Independence Day.
“Throughout our history, Israel has overcome challenges threatening our existence,” said Acting Consul General of Israel to the Southwest US Eitan Weiss. “The Israeli people and the Israel Defense Forces stand in the face of all threats and remain resilient. Their courage guarantees the security and the continuity of our nation. We bow our heads because we know that Israel is here thanks to their heroism.”
Fifty-six local schools, synagogues, and organizations also partnered for the gathering. The ceremony honored the memories of Israel’s fallen heroes and paid tribute to the brave men and women in uniform who defend Israel and Jews around the world.
“As we prepare to celebrate 71 years of a strong and independent Israel, we must remember that we are able to do so because of the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women of the IDF,” said FIDF National Board Member Ari Ryan. “These heroes continue to fight for the survival of the Jewish state. We are forever in their debt.”
Community leaders, including Sgt. Adina, Sgt. Aaron, and Marthe and Major L. Cohn, lit 18 memorial candles in honor of Israel’s fallen soldiers.
Holocaust survivor Marthe Cohn, 99, was a member of the intelligence service of the French First Army and was able to retrieve confidential information about German troop movement during World War II by slipping behind enemy lines.
At age 80, Marthe was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Medaille Militaire, joining the likes of Winston Churchill and other outstanding wartime heroes. The award officially acknowledged the heroic exploits of a young Jewish woman who faced death every day as she sought to help defeat the enemy.
The community prayed for the safety of the soldiers and citizens of Israel, and mourned the 26,891 fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
Other distinguished guests included musician Ron Weinrich, a former IDF tank commander, injured in Lebanon in 2006; Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance Marvin Hier; Ari Ryan’s wife, Rebecca; TOTA President James Blatt; and FIDF Western Region Executive Director Jenna Griffin.