By Michelle Cohen
Erez Shtark was born on December 24, 1975, in Kiryat Atta, Israel. Erez played volleyball and basketball, and due to his great talent, he even made it to the national Israeli volleyball team, and represented Israel in competitions abroad. In October 1994, Erez was drafted to the IDF. He went through training in the signal corps, and was placed in one of the corps’ bases in the north of Israel. During his service, he was sent to missions in Lebanon. On the eve of Feb. 4, 1997, two helicopters crashed into each other above the moshav “Sha’ar Yishov.” All 73 soldiers on board, on their way to an operative mission in Lebanon, were killed. Among them was Erez, who was 21 years old.
On April 30, the Lehigh Valley Jewish community is invited to join together for a ceremony honoring Israel’s fallen soldiers for Yom HaZikaron using songs written by Erez and several other fallen soldiers.
Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s Memorial Day, a solemn occasion focusing on remembering the IDF’s fallen soldiers as well as civilians who have died in terror attacks. This year, the program will include selections of songs created as part of the “Soon We Will Become a Song” project that will be broadcasted in Israel on the same day.
The “Soon We Will Become a Song” project began with a newspaper interview with a soldier during the First Lebanon War. He spoke of his fear of dying in combat, saying, “Soon we will become a song, soon we may not be here.” This launched the radio project that the Lehigh Valley’s observance will focus on.
Each year, the project “pays tribute to fallen soldiers and victims of terror by turning their poems and letters into songs,” according to www.idfblog.com. Texts written by the fallen are shown to Israeli musicians, who choose which one they would like to turn into a song. They then interact with the families, learning more about the people who wrote the original texts before setting them to music. Each song is published alongside the person’s story, and the songs are aired on Galei Tzahal, the IDF’s radio station, on Yom HaZikaron.
A selection of these songs will be brought to the Lehigh Valley, including the stories about the fallen soldiers and recordings of the music that will be played for attendees.
The program will also feature a short presentation from Liron Daniel, the Israel fellow at Muhlenberg College, who will discuss her memories from working in the Israeli prime minister’s office during Operation Protective Edge. As part of her speech, she will recall the story of a fallen family friend, and she ends with the powerful statement: “I realized how many people I know in this cemetery. Too many people.”
The event will take place in the auxiliary auditorium of the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley on April 30. Services will begin at 7:15 p.m. followed by the program at 7:30 p.m. The program is free and open to the community.
For more information, contact Aaron Gorodzinsky at 610-821-5500 x337 or firstname.lastname@example.org