Pain and Honor Mark BTJ Wartime Memorial Day Ceremony

The piercing pain and sorrow that marked Israel’s Memorial Day 2024 touched Boys Town Jerusalem students of all ages. At the school’s Memorial Day ceremony, over 20 recent grads now serving in IDF combat units – including many recovering from combat injuries – returned to pay tribute to fallen classmates.

Students spent Memorial Day visiting Mt. Herzl

Earlier, BTJ students walked to the nearby Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery to recite prayers at the gravesite of IDF Corporal Ofir Testa, 21, killed at the war’s outbreak. Other BTJ grads killed in battle were Sgt. Benyamin Yona, 19, and Police Sgt. Gedif Mulugeta, 29. Current student Liel Gerafe, 19, was murdered by terrorists.

Ofir’s friends shared memories

BTJ grad Yitzchak Marwani, 21, shared memories of his friend Ofir Testa with today’s students. “In his quiet way, Ofir tried to make a better world. This is the essence of what we were all taught at Boys Town Jerusalem.” Today Yitzchak serves in a Combat Engineering unit in Gaza, where he was recently injured.

BTJ grads have been fighting on the front lines

Yitzchak’s classmate, Infantry Unit Squadron Commander Amitay Cohen, 21, serves as a medic. At the war’s October 7th outbreak, Amitay headed south with his unit where he soon began treating injured civilians fleeing Hamas terrorists. “Once we reached the Nova Music Festival site, there were 250 dead bodies strewn everywhere. Our search found no survivors,” he said grimly.

Entering Gaza, Amitay bravely fought with his unit. In a recent clash with terrorists, Amitay’s unit entered a boobytrapped structure which exploded, killing three and injuring 15. Amitay gave immediate medical care to eight wounded comrades before tending to his own serious injuries. He has since been undergoing treatment in Jerusalem’s Shaarei Zedek Hospital.

It was important to come to the Memorial Ceremony

“I felt it was important to come to the BTJ Memorial Ceremony today,” Amitay shared. “My friend Ofir Testa was a happy, positive person who helped all. Today, we must believe that life will be better. We must continue living, while never forgetting the dead. Am Yisrael Chai.”