On Thursday, May 9, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and the Board of Chosen Freeholders hosted a Yom Hazikaron commemoration, presented in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Members of the New Jersey and New York Jewish communities gathered at the Bergen County Plaza in Hackensack for a program on Yom Hazikaron and a celebration of Israel’s democracy. On top of hosting multiple speakers, the program welcomed elementary students from the Moriah School’s choir to perform the Israeli and American national anthems, along with the song “We Are a Miracle.” The Honor Guard from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department also marched and raised several flags.
The speakers at the event focused mainly on threats against Jews throughout the world, such as the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S., the Poway tragedy that occurred several weeks ago and resulted in the death of Lori Kaye, HY”D, and Israel’s rocket crisis, in which over 700 rockets were fired at Israel’s civilian population. Rabbi Chaim Poupko, from Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, led a prayer for Israel’s safety, and James Tedesco III, Bergen County Executive, encouraged celebrating commitment together as countries and as people. “Our freedom has been earned by those who have sacrificed their lives for the rest of us,” he said. “The people of Israel honor those who fought and died for Israel.” He then held a moment of silence to honor their service. “Good will triumph over bad,” he assured his audience, before reading a proclamation in recognition of Israel and the importance of respecting the Jews in Bergen County.
Roberta Abrams, president of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, said, “These are trying times, and it is comforting to know that Federation represents the Jewish community.” Tracey Zur, from the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, followed up by quoting the Game of Thrones character Arya Stark’s famous line “Not today” regarding the Jewish community’s refusal to accept defeat and our strength in the face of adversity.
Speakers at the event also discussed what it means to celebrate Israel and stressed the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Israel Nitzan, the deputy consul general of Israel, praised American law enforcement and expounded upon the unique relationship between Israel and America. “This is not just an alliance,” he explained, “but it is a relationship based on values of democracy, freedom, and friendship between the people of Israel and America.”
By Brooke Schwartz
Brooke Schwartz is a senior at Frisch and a Jewish Link intern.