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In Memorial Ceremonies Across the Country, NOAL Honors its Fallen

This Yom HaZikaron was different from most. Israel is in the middle of an active war in Gaza, dealing with a tense and escalating front in the north, and still waiting for 129 hostages to return. It has lost over 700 soldiers and over 800 civilians since last year’s Memorial Day. 

57 of those lost were former or current participants of HaNoar HaOved v’HaLomed (NOAL), Dror Israel’s associated youth movement. They included Carmel Bachar, Tahel Bira, brothers Alon and Ido Even and Lior Tarshansky z”l, teens murdered at Kibbutz Beeri on October 7th. They also included Hallel Solomon z”l from Dimona and Ahmad Abu Latif from Rahat, youth movement graduates who both fell in combat in Gaza.

Community memorial corners in evacuee centers gave an opportunity for personal remembrance

Ron Kiesler, the director of NOAL in the Eshkol Regional Council where Beeri and many of the other affected kibbutzim are located, emphasized that “our youth participants are the most precious thing our movement has - we are not meant to be burying them.”

“The fact that I will never again see Tahel leading activities for her 8th graders, Carmel greeting me with his mischievous smile, Alon begging me to allow his eleventh grade class to go on the Poland trip…this shatters my heart to pieces,” he went on. “The best of our participants were brutally cut off from their dreams, laughter, brave friendship and leadership of the Beeri youth movement branch. The youth movement will miss each and every one of them. Nothing can fill the void.” 

Teens established a memorial corner at their youth movement branch.

Ken Borochov, one of NOAL’s largest chapters located in Givatayim, held its traditional ceremony in honor of Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Acts of Terrorism on Sunday. This year, however, the chapter commemorated two of its own fallen graduates: Omri Niv Firestein and Rom Hecht z”l, who fell in combat. 

Firestein and Hecht were members of the same age group in NOAL. The ceremony was organized by the 12th graders, the chapter’s oldest participants, who created a “Remembrance Corner” with photos and stories of the two. Givatayim Mayor Ron Kuniak spoke at the ceremony, saying that “in recent generations, there has been talk that your generation was the generation of screens, that didn’t care about anything. In this war, we have discovered how untrue that is - how much we can depend on you, especially those of you who were educated towards love of the homeland, equality and solidarity.” 

Ido Cohen, director of the Borochov branch, at their Memorial Ceremony

Ido Cohen, the director of the Borochov branch, explained that youth participants organized a hike in commemoration of Omri and Rom for 100 high-school aged participants in Ein Gedi. Both Omri and Rom particularly loved the youth movement’s big hikes, he added.

In addition to its own branches, NOAL took an active role in organizing and hosting memorial ceremonies within the evacuee communities where it has worked closely since the start of the war. Specifically, NOAL held memorials in 45 different hotels in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Herzliya, Tveria and the Jordan Valley, where the evacuees of Kiryat Shmona are still living. 

Hod Laish, one of the central organizers of movement activities with the Kiryat Shmona community, said that they decided to hold the memorials together with local leadership when they understood that the evacuees themselves were not able to put on the ceremonies for themselves. 

Youth movement participants speaking at Kiryat Shmona's memorial ceremony.

Of the ceremony at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv, he said that “the people that spoke at the ceremony were NOAL participants who had been evacuated, and other evacuated teens and adults from Kiryat Shmona. It was very emotional and important to everyone there.”

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