Above: Israel sets aside a day to remember its lost soldier and terrorism victims immediately before celebrating its independence.

Before celebrating Israel’s 68th birthday on Yom HaAtzmaut, Atlanta’s Israeli and Jewish communities gathered at Ahavath Achim Synagogue on Tuesday night, May 10, for the annual observance of Yom HaZikaron, mourning the 23,447 people who have died fighting to ensure Israel’s independence or have been killed in terrorist attacks since 1948.

The ceremony, emceed by the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange’s Robbie Friedmann, featured Israeli Scouts; students from the Epstein School, Atlanta Jewish Academy and Davis Academy; Rabbis Joshua Heller, Adam Starr and Neil Sandler; Israeli Consul General Judith Varnai Shorer and Deputy Consul Ron Brummer; and leaders of American Jewish Committee, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, the Marcus Jewish Community Center, the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

Israeli actress Amit Farkas, whose older brother, Thom, died flying a helicopter during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and who gained fame by singing “A Million Stars” at his funeral, delivered the passionate address keynote address the night before bringing her story to Atlanta day schools.

Photos by Michael Jacobs