YIZKOR services this Yom Kippur will take on an extra significance with the addition of a special prayer remembering the Australian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I.
The prayer has been jointly composed by Cremorne Synagogue’s Rabbi Yossi Friedman, a chaplain to the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and Caulfield Hebrew Congregation’s Rabbi Ralph Genende, who is senior rabbi to the ADF and chair of the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services.
The initiative is a precursor to next year’s Centenary of Anzac commemorations in the Jewish community.
“It’s a memorial prayer, but it makes particular reference to the Anzac troops and all those who bravely laid down their lives in defence of our country in World War I,” Rabbi Friedman told The AJN.
“The Jews have always contributed greatly to the societies of which they’ve been a part.
“Right throughout all the wars we’ve faced in Australia there’s always been a very high contingent [of Jews] and it’s important to remember their service to our country because we can practise our religion freely, we can go to shul and be secure because of their sacrifices.”
Rabbi Genende said the Jews are a “people of memory”.
“There’s one word that appears more than any other word in the Torah, it’s the word Zachor – remember,” he said.
“I think that connecting remembering in this way, [to] the Anzacs, comes very naturally to us.
“But it’s also a meaningful and appropriate way of connecting ourselves to all Australians who will be commemorating and thinking about the Anzac contribution over the next year.”
It is also proposed that a list of soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice be distributed to synagogues so that from Anzac Day next year to Remembrance Day in 2018, they can be remembered in shul on the Shabbat of their centenary yahrzeit.
The NSW Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (NAJEX) is also currently seeking items of historical interest and anecdotes, from Jewish ex-servicemen and women or their relatives, for the Centenary of Anzac commemorations and in particular for the book on the history of Jews in the Australian military being written by Jewish author Mark Dapin.
Help from the community is also being sought to assist in the organising of a major event to take place at The Great Synagogue in May next year.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove is expected to attend the function, alongside leaders from the Jewish and wider communities.
Lionel Levy (third from right) appeared in a 1915 military postcard. He died at the Battle of Fromelles in 1916.