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May 1, 2024

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation's Yom Ha'Zikaron Statement

Yom Ha’Zikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, which honors Israel’s fallen soldiers, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, take on an even greater meaning in 5784. As we mourn and celebrate next week, we recall those who have fallen over the past eight decades, making the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good of the Jewish people – the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Of equal importance, we recognize those who are currently engaged in battle for the same cause. Israel, through its war with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the rest of its proxies, is not only fighting an existential war on behalf of the Jewish people, but also on behalf of Western democratic values that allow people of all walks of life not only to survive, but thrive.

Because we are Jews, we have no choice but to be on the front lines of this defensive war in different ways. We are still reeling from the terror attacks of October 7, 2023, the deadliest day for worldwide Jewry since the Holocaust. We pray daily for the 132 hostages captured on that fateful day who still remain somewhere in Gaza, do not have access to proper medical care and are routinely subjected to physical torture, sexual violence and inconceivable anguish.

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Jewish students on university campuses across the United States and worldwide, who are daily targets of virulent antisemitism and sometimes physical violence as they seek to better themselves through education. We are grateful that our Florida college campuses are safer than most, although our students are not immune to anti-Jewish sentiments and harassment from other students, professors and outside agitators. 

We weep deeply with our Holocaust Survivors as we heed the lesson they already learned: Much of the world is loudly opposed to our cries of “Never Again!” and even more are indifferent.

We encourage you to mourn with community this Yom Ha’Zikaron, as we memorialize the fallen in wars we did not choose and remind each other lovingly that this too shall pass. And we encourage you to celebrate with community this Yom Ha’Atzmaut, when — symbolically at least for 24 hours — the pain subsides and we joyfully commemorate the thriving, vibrant, democratic miracle of the Jewish state in full bloom in the desert just 80 years after the Holocaust, the greatest calamity to ever befall the Jewish people.

Am Yisrael Chai!

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