01 May 2013

ANZAC Day is growing in Jerusalem too

            Australian soldiers prior to ANZAC ceremony
Australian soldiers prior to ANZAC ceremony Photo: REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
...Never in living memory had there been so large an attendance [at the ANZAC Day commemoration at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Jerusalem] of diplomats; military attaches from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Turkey, France and India; representatives of ex-service organizations, Zionist youth, business and sporting organizations, Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces, the Jewish National Fund, the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association, the Society for the Heritage of World War I, the Gallipoli Association, the United Nations Troop Supervision Organization, the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) and the Australian Zionist Federation, along with Australian and New Zealand expatriates living in Israel, and Australian and New Zealand tourists.
...“The Middle East is no stranger to Australian servicemen and women,” said Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner, who noted that since the battle of Gallipoli and “the critical role of Australian troops in the success of the Palestine campaign in World War I – which is marked every year in Beersheba on October 31 – our soldiers have been intimately involved in campaigns and peacekeeping in the region. Our histories are forever intertwined.”
...ANZAC Day ceremonies in Israel are always ecumenical, with appropriate readings divided between Christian and Jewish clergy.
Because Jewish soldiers are also buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, two Australian Rabbis living in Israel, Rabbi Raymond Apple assisted by Rabbi Edward Belfer, conduct a service after the official ceremony and recite kaddish in that section of the cemetery in which most of the Jewish soldiers are buried.
Apple, who is chief rabbi emeritus of the Sydney Great Synagogue and was formerly the senior rabbi of the Australian Defense Forces, said that in the upcoming Torah reading Moses was instructed to count the Israelite people in accordance with their armies. The age for service according to the Torah, was 20 plus. The soldiers buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery were more or less the same age, and had the world ahead of them, said Apple. They were young men who went into the unknown.
“What society lost with these young men was a concentration of identity, energy, enterprise, courage, vision and achievement,” said Apple, observing that a little over a week earlier, Israel had mourned the loss of so many of the nation’s young people “during a struggle that is tragically not yet over.”