‘Zachor’ etched in flames as a remembrance

Photos: Terry Morris

June is always a busy month in ESRA’s calendar, especially in connection with our projects.  We are approaching the summer break when the year culminates with numerous wonderful happenings.    

ESRA’s national Netanya-based projects enjoy end-of-year activities. Amongst them are the “Batmitzvah Ceremony” for mothers and daughters and the amazing ceremony for our Students Build a Community Project. Both these events are reported separately in this magazine.

This year I attended one event that was different –Zachor - it was both moving and celebratory.  It was moving as it recalled those 12,000 Ethiopians Jews who, back in 1984, began the long trek home to Israel, walking from Ethiopia to Sudan where they boarded the plane for Israel. Tragically, only 8,000 made it – 4,000 literally fell by the wayside due to violence and illness.  Celebratory, on the one hand, for those who made it to Israel, but not so for many whose close relatives were amongst those who perished in the long, hard and grueling trek.


             Flag-bearers march around Hefzibah    Community Leaders take to the streets                       

Hefzibah is home to numerous families of Ethiopian origin, many of whom lost loved ones.  “It was exceedingly moving at the Zachor ceremony to hear personal stories of individuals who lost close relatives.  Each one was called up to light a candle in memory of his or her departed loved one.  In addition, we heard the individual stories of hardship, perseverance and endurance of those who finally made it to Israel.  

The event began with flag-bearers marching around Hefzibah. prior to entering the grounds of the community center where the ceremony took place.  Pictures surrounded the seating area – each one telling the story of this unforgettable march.  ESRA was proud of its Students Build a Community members who acted as comperes as well as reenacting the painful story.     

Perhaps the fire-illuminated Magen David - together with the word “Zachor” - told the story graphically, for there is no doubt that the message of remembrance is burnt into the souls of the survivors.  May their loved ones who perished be remembered for a blessing.   Zachor!   

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Brenda Katten

Brenda Katten was born and educated in London, UK.  She was a member of Bnei Akiva and the Federation of Zionist Youth (FZY). Professionally she worked as a Relationship and Educational C...

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