Israel Announces Landmark Step Toward Memorializing Jews Murdered in Antisemitic Attacks Abroad

The formation of a government committee that examines how non-Israeli victims of terror are commemorated marks the adoption of guidelines offered by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

Jerusalem, Israel, May, 2023  The government of Israel announced its launch of a process that will result in the historic landmark step of honoring the memory of Diaspora Jews who have been murdered in antisemitic attacks abroad.

Specifically, the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism revealed that it is forming a committee which will work to ensure that the State of Israel — as the Jewish state — recognizes its obligation to officially memorialize non-Israeli Jews from around the world who were murdered explicitly for being Jewish.

Israel’s formation of the committee represents the government’s adoption of “The Ruderman Roadmap” — strategic guidelines on Israel-Diaspora relations that were offered by the Ruderman Family Foundation, with the goal of formalizing this shift in the state’s approach toward non-Israeli Jews who were victims of antisemitism in the Diaspora.

“This is a historic day for the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” said Shira Ruderman, Executive Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “With this decision, the State of Israel has proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is the state of the Jewish people, and that only through our unity as a people and through the mutual guarantee between us can we guarantee our security and prosperity.”

The Foundation’s roadmap explains that the State of Israel “should have a defined policy for marking, observing, or conducting any state-sponsored act of solidarity with the memory of those who fell victim to antisemitic acts in the Diaspora for belonging to the Jewish people.” Rather, Israeli law long defined the annual observance of Yom Hazikaron as a commemoration of “the heroic deeds of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who gave their lives to ensure the existence of the State of Israel, and for the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces who fell in the struggle for the rebirth of Israel.”

In 1998, the government expanded Yom Hazikaron to include the commemoration of Israeli victims of terrorism, thereby renaming the observance as the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. Yet to date, the official state memorial ceremony at the Monument for the Victims of Acts of Terror on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem has not recognized non-Israeli Jews who were victims of antisemitic hostilities worldwide.

Now, the government is forming a special committee to examine the manner in which victims of hostilities are commemorated. Subsequently, the state will formally grant recognition to the various families in the Diaspora who have lost their loved ones in antisemitic attacks. The committee will submit its conclusions and recommendations to the Minister of Diaspora Affairs no later than September 1, 2023. The government also expressed its intent to deepen the connection of the State of Israel and its citizens with Diaspora Jews.

The Ruderman Family Foundation initiated this step together with the World Zionist Organization and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

“We appreciate the commitment of Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli to promote this initiative,” Shira Ruderman said. “The Ruderman Family Foundation will continue to work tirelessly to strengthen the State of Israel’s relationship with American Jewry and with the entire Diaspora.”

For more than two decades, the Ruderman Family Foundation has undertaken multifaceted efforts to solidify the State of Israel’s relationship with American Jewry and with the global Jewish community — with “The Ruderman Roadmap” representing its latest initiative in that realm. The Foundation’s activities have included the Knesset Caucus for Israel-American Jewry Relations, which aims to elevate the concerns of American Jews within the Israeli legislature’s deliberations; University of Haifa’s Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies, a master’s degree that covers a wide range of issues pertaining to American Jewish life and American society; conferences and research efforts that provide thought leaders and decision-makers the data needed to properly understand the current trends in Israel-American Jewry relations.

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