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Liran Saadai z"l


by Baillie Shuster, May16, 2011

This year the community wide memorial service for Yom Hazikaron held at the Berney Theatre on Sunday May 8, 2011 featured the participation of many former members of the Israel Defence Forces {IDF], which in itself is remarkable considering these people served to defend our homeland which is so far away from the place this ceremony was held.

We feel the impact of this somber day regardless of the immense distance that separates us from our homeland and the continued battle for existence. We know and love people of this small community in Canada who have been part of the strong force fighting for the continued  existence and  security of th eState of Israel.

The emotions that I experiences throughout this moving service were both extreme pride as well as an overflowing feeling of sadness. This year along with former IDF members, the service consisted of local students singing meaningful songs about Yom Hazikaron as well as reading an excerpt from the service that the students of Gray Academy conducted. The beautiful service had many crying and all honoring the sacrifice of the brave young Israeli men and women.

Some of the former soldiers of the IDF shared with us personal stories about people they knew who had died in the line of duty, such as their former commanders or even former students such as Liran Saadia. The story of Liran Saadia from Kiryat Shmona is one that is specifically important to the Jewish community of Winnipeg and to me. Having gone on the Partnership 2000 program last April, I had the opportunity to experience Yom Hazikaron in the city of Kiryat Shmona that Liran called home, The service in kiryat Shmona was truly  a life changing experience. Before this journey and meeting these amazing people I did not fully comprehend the importance of the Yom Hazikaron or understand the daily struggle people experience having to send their sons and daughters to the army.

One vivid memory of the Yom Hazikaron service of Kiryat Shmona was the ongoing list of images and names of young men and women, people’s children, from Kiryat Shmona who had died defending the country, one of these being Liran Saadia. Liran is a hero in Kiryat Shmona and known by everyone as being a brilliant and selfless young man, who always looked out for others. I never met Liran but all the things I have heard about this exceptional young man truly inspire me.

Our community’s connection to his story was strengthened when Liran’s younger sister came to be a counselor at Camp Massad last summer and Liran’s story inspired all who heard it. My personal connection and passion for his story grew stronger because I became close with Liran's 16-year-old brother. Having a personal connection to this day is something that changed me. I saw the immense sadness of his brother on Yom Hazikaron and I was overcome with emotions because of it. It really brought home the importance of this day. The remarkable thing I realized from my experience is that this day is not only about mourning those who sacrificed their lives for this country but it also focuses on national pride for honoring and appreciating those who served.

I began to understand the importance of the sequence of the Yom Hazikaron followed by Yom Haatzmaut.You must honor those that fell fighting for our freedom and then you celebrate what they have done for the country’s existence. As someone wise once told me, it is important to be sad on Yom Hazikaron but to be happy on Yom Haatzmaut because otherwise the sacrifice for the country has no meaning. If we don’t appreciate and celebrate all that we have because of their sacrifice then we are not doing these young soldiers the justice they deserve.

This is a hard transition for me. I find that sometimes it is hard to change so quickly from mourning to celebrating. But  then I just think back to my friends in Israel and the lesson they taught me about the importance of celebrating the achievements of our soldiers that ensure the continued existence of our promised land.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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