As is customary, the Embassy of Australia in Israel held a commemorative service for Anzac Day at the Mt Scopus Commonwealth Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. This ceremony has become an important occasion not only for Australian and New Zealand diplomats serving in Israel to mark this important day, but also for Australian olim and Australian gap year participants to show respect for those who fell at Gallipoli and in various military actions and service since then.
Each year, the Zionist Federation of Australia organises for Australian gap year participants to attend and actively participate in this ceremony. Despite the fact that Anzac Day 2017 fell during Pesach, when the gap year programs are on holidays, representatives from Bnei Akiva, Betar, Netzer, Hineni, Israel By Choice (IBC) and Highway Israel chose to attend to commemorate Anzac Day in Israel.
Tyla Chapman from Hineni said: –
“It is so wonderful that we have the opportunity to honour the memories of the brave ANZACs to whom we as Jews, and Australians owe so much.”
There was a large crowd in attendance of diplomats, ambassadors and representatives from Australia, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Turkey, France, Germany and New Zealand; Zionist youth, Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Israel Defence Forces, Members of Australian Armed forces serving in the United Nations Truce Observation Forces in the Middle East and the Australian Zionist Federation, along with Australian and New Zealand olim living in Israel.
Representatives of each of the gap year groups placed tribute wreaths at the site in tribute to the fallen. ZFA Israel Office Director Yigal Sela, who laid the wreath on behalf of the ZFA said: –
“Despite ANZAC Day falling during the Pesach break this year, I am very proud of our program participants that they felt a need and responsibility to be present at such an important ceremony, that here, in Israel, symbolises more than anything else, the very close relationship between Israel and Australia, and especially the Jewish community there.”
After the formal ceremony, the participants moved to the Jewish section of the cemetery where a short service and Kaddish was said, led by Rabbi Raymond Apple in honour of the Jewish soldiers buried there.
Ethan Kemelman from IBC said: –
“We came here on ANZAC Day to not just commemorate those who laid down their lives but to celebrate the Australian spirit of those, who in hardship, displayed courage, mateship and self-sacrifice from afar. Such qualities were epitomized by the heroism of the Australian Light Horse Brigade and their triumph against Ottoman forces in Beersheba, the last successful cavalry charge, to open the way for General Allenby to liberate Jerusalem. The history of the Light Horse men and the ANZAC is history for us all, both as Australians and as Jews.”
Lest We Forget.