An English-language Memorial Day Ceremony was held and livestreamed Tuesday evening for the third year running at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill
The ceremony is the brainchild of the Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin, created in 2009 to support soldiers whose families are either outside of Israel or not in touch for various reasons.
This year, the mothers of fallen lone soldiers Michael Levin and Max Steinberg shared their sons’ stories, and Tuvia Book commemorated his friend and fellow lone soldier, Alex Singer.
Michael Levin moved to Israel from Philadelphia in 2002 and joined the IDF Paratroopers Unit. He fell in action during a firefight with the terror organization Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War in August 2006, at the age of 22.
Watch the ceremony below:
Alex Singer was killed in action in Lebanon in 1987 in a terrorist ambush while rushing forward under fire with the unit medic to try to save the life of his commanding officer.
Max Steinberg, 24, a sharpshooter in the Golani Brigade, was one of 13 soldiers killed on day 13 of the 2014 Gaza-Israel war, during heavy fighting in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.
Organizers hope the annual event will help mark the sacrifice of lone soldiers from English-speaking countries, and help members of the English-speaking community — many of whom have never served in the IDF because they were too old to do so when they immigrated — to better connect to the national day of mourning.
It had been Michael Levin’s dream to create a center to help with all aspects of army life for the roughly 7,000 lone soldiers serving in the Israeli army.
In the end it was friends and other former lone soldiers who set the center up in his memory.
According to the facility’s website, it remains the only organization in the country solely dedicated to meeting the physical and social needs of soldiers whose parents are either overseas or not in contact with the soldier. The latter category includes soldiers from ultra-Orthodox backgrounds whose families disown them when they become less religious.
Michael Levin has become something of a symbol for American Jews, and his gravesite is covered with memorabilia from the hundreds of Birthrights and tour groups that stop by on a daily basis.
Documentaries about Levin, including A Hero in Heaven, are often shown on Israeli TV during Memorial Day.